A judge today ordered a Richmond man to stand trial on a murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of a rapper in the heart of downtown Oakland last April.
In her ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson rejected defense attorney Andrew Steckler’s argument that DL Raney, 22, acted in self-defense when he shot Keith L. Head, 22, at close range at Broadway and 13th Street at about 10:20 p.m. on April 23.
At the end of a preliminary hearing that lasted a day and a half, Thompson said Steckler was making “leaps and bounds about the fear” that Raney allegedly felt when he fired a single shot into the chest of Head, a San Francisco man whose rap name was K.O. Da Bandit.
There was little doubt that Raney was the shooter in the incident because the shooting, which occurred near the T-Mobile store in downtown, was captured by multiple security cameras at nearby businesses such as Burger King and the DeLauer’s newsstand. Those videos were played at the hearing.
Steckler argued that the videos show that Raney was “in headlong flight” from Head and was trying to run away from Head when he shot him.
Steckler also cited a witness’s statement to Oakland police that Head had jumped off a small wall to chase after Raney and was “in attack mode” with clenched fists.
In addition, Steckler said the videos seem to indicate that Head had something in one of his hands such as a cellphone which Raney might have thought was “a shank or a knife or any of a number of things that could be lethal.”
But prosecutor Armando Pastran said Head was unarmed and he doesn’t think Head had his cellphone in his hands.
Pastran said he thinks the videos indicate that Raney was the aggressor in the incident because they appear to show that Raney made the first steps toward Head and then Head reacted to Raney because he “perceived some kind of threat” from Raney.
Steckler said Raney should only be ordered to stand trial on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter charge because he didn’t act with malice, a key element for a murder conviction.
But Pastran said there’s no evidence that Raney acted in honest fear of suffering great bodily injury or death and being afraid of being beaten up in a fight doesn’t justify shooting someone.
Pastran also argued that, “The initial aggressor cannot claim a right of self-defense.”
A friend of Head’s testified during the hearing that Head came over to his home in West Oakland last April 23 so they could hang out and smoke marijuana together but he rejected Steckler’s suggestion that he and Head were in downtown Oakland that night to sell drugs.
The friend, who asked that his name not be used, said, “I don’t sell drugs” and testified that the only reason he and Head went downtown was to get some food.
Raney is scheduled to return to court on March 26 to have a trial date set.