General Crime

Deshawn Reed Gets Life In Prison For Murdering Two Men In West Oakland

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An Oakland man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for murdering two men in broad daylight in West Oakland four years ago.

DeShawn Reed, 31, was convicted in May of first-degree murder of the death of 29-year-old Victor Johns and second-degree murder for the death of 56-year-old John Jones.

Johns and Jones were both fatally shot in the 1000 block of 30th Street in Oakland at about 2:35 p.m. on March 5, 2010.

Prosecutor Autrey James told jurors in his closing argument that the motive for the shooting is unclear but he believes all of the evidence in the case, including the witnesses’ testimony, points to Reed being the person who killed Johns and Jones.

James said he believes Reed and co-defendant Jason Watts drove to the scene to track down and kill Johns and also wound up killing Jones.

Reed’s lawyer, Spencer Strellis, said in his closing argument that Reed should be found not guilty because of what he said was the lack of a motive for Reed to carry out the shooting and discrepancies about the clothing Reed was wearing at the time of the shooting.

Strellis said Reed didn’t have a prior criminal record as an adult and “there’s too much reasonable doubt” to convict him.

Strellis also suggested that the shooting might have been carried out by another man who was associated with the vehicle that was used in the incident because that man was in the area at the time and was well-known to Oakland police.

After Reed was convicted, Strellis said, “I think the jury’s verdict is wrong because I don’t think he (Reed) did it (the shootings).”

Witnesses who saw the shooting said the shooter was wearing all- black clothes and a black hoodie but Oakland police Officer Michael Osanna said Reed was wearing a checkered or plaid shirt when he arrested him a short time afterward.

James said he believes the discrepancy was explained by a witness who identified Reed as the shooter shortly after the shooting and told police that Reed had changed shirts.

But Strellis said he doesn’t think Reed would have had enough time to change shirts because he was arrested only moments after the shooting.

Reed initially was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial but was later deemed mentally fit enough to be prosecuted.

Watts, 28, the other defendant in the case, was convicted in December 2012 of two counts of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders for being the driver in the incident. He was sentenced last year to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

Johns’ aunt, Caroline Silas-Sams, said at Reed’s sentencing hearing today that, “Victor was a kind-hearted man” and his death “is so incredibly painful.”

Silas-Sams said she is still troubled by “the fear he (Johns) must have felt when someone was chasing him down.”

She said, “What I have is grief and sorrow and I pray for peace for everyone who was involved.”

Pam Young, Jones’ cousin, said Jones was “the pillar” of her family and “he has been missed the last four years.”

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