A Hercules man was convicted of first-degree murder today for his role in an alleged scheme to steal marijuana from a man at an Alameda apartment complex three years ago that resulted in the intended victim’s death.
Jurors deliberated for only two hours before reaching their verdict against 32-year-old Charles Kimbrough, who faces at least 25 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer on Oct. 31.
Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty told jurors in his closing argument on Tuesday that Kimbrough should be convicted of first-degree murder because he believes the evidence shows that Kimbrough and two associates planned to rob the victim, 32-year-old William Adrian Falcon Sapp, at the Summer House Apartments at Buena Vista Avenue and Poggi Street on April 20, 2011.
Moriarty said, “It’s crystal clear what the three men intended to do when they got there” but “it went wrong and a man died.”
Moriarty said Christopher Donaldson, 25, set the plot in motion by contacting Sapp through Craigslist. Sapp grew marijuana legally for medical marijuana clubs and offered marijuana for sale.
Moriarty said Donaldson didn’t intend to buy marijuana from Sapp, but instead arranged for Kimbrough and a third man, Richard Ezell, 25, to rob Sapp at the apartment complex.
However, Moriarty said Sapp fought back against Kimbrough and Ezell and Ezell shot and killed him.
Donaldson was convicted of first-degree murder on June 11 and on Aug. 15 was sentenced to 32 years to life in state prison.
Earlier this year, Ezell and Kimbrough both pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for their roles in the death of Sapp in an agreement with prosecutors that called for them to get sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison in return for testifying against Donaldson.
Ezell kept his part of the deal by testifying against Donaldson during his trial, but Kimbrough refused to testify so his plea agreement was thrown out, risking the possibility that he would be convicted of first-degree murder and be sentenced to 25 years to life.
Ezell also testified against Kimbrough earlier this month.
Moriarty said that although Kimbrough isn’t the one who shot Ezell, he should be convicted under the felony murder rule because he planned to participate in a robbery that he knew could involve violence.
The prosecutor said Sapp, who lived at a warehouse loft in Oakland, had a duffel bag of marijuana worth $1,550 when he was killed.
Kimbrough’s lawyer, James Giller, had said Kimbrough should be found not guilty of murder because nothing was ever taken and the robbery never came to fruition.
Giller said, “It was a poorly-planned escapade” and the gun that was used to kill Sapp was produced by Sapp himself, not by Donaldson, Ezell or Kimbrough.
Moriarty explained that Kimbrough brought a fake gun to use in the robbery but Sapp carried a real gun because people had stolen marijuana from him before.
Giller suggested that Sapp may have planned to steal the money from Kimbrough, Donaldson and Ezell but Moriarty said that wasn’t the case.
Moriarty said Sapp “was not reversing the tables and trying to rob anyone.”
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