An Oakland man was convicted today of second-degree murder and attempted murder for fatally shooting a 39-year-old woman and wounding her boyfriend in East Oakland last year.
Rasheed Strane, 25, admitted during his trial that he killed Rebecca Viera and wounded Joseph Johnson by firing multiple shots into Johnson’s car at 72nd and Lacey avenues at about 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2013.
But Strane said he acted only after Johnson had threatened to shoot him during several phone calls and then drove to the apartment where he was living with Brittney McNary, his girlfriend and the mother of one of his children.
However, prosecutor Melissa Dooher told jurors in her closing argument that they should convict Strane of murder because there wasn’t any imminent danger to him or McNary, alleging that Strane acted impulsively out of a misguided belief that he had to protect McNary.
Strane’s lawyer, Ernie Castillo, in contrast, said Strane should be found not guilty of any charges because the evidence in the case supports his assertion that he acted in self-defense.
Strane also was convicted of a third charge, shooting into an occupied vehicle, but that won’t add his state prison term when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing on Oct. 30.
Dooher said she expects Strane to receive a term of at least 65 years to life for his second-degree murder and attempted murder convictions plus the jury’s finding that he personally discharged a firearm and caused Viera’s death.
Although Dooher and Castillo disagreed about whether Strane should be convicted of murder and the other charges, they agreed that the shooting stemmed from a dispute between McNary and LaTanya Evans, who was a friend of Viera’s.
Dooher said the tension between the two women began a few weeks before the shooting when Evans loaned a BB gun that belonged to her boyfriend, Matthew Washington, to Strane so that Strane could use it to commit a robbery.
Washington was in custody at the time on suspicion of writing fraudulent checks, although he was never charged, Dooher said.
Washington was jealous of Strane so Evans wanted to get the BB gun back from Strane because she didn’t want Washington to find out that she had loaned it to Strane, Dooher said.
In addition, McNary was jealous of Evans and tensions developed between the two women, according to Dooher.
McNary and Evans planned to fight on the night of Aug. 17, 2013, and Viera, who sided with Evans, wanted to watch the fight, Dooher said.
The prosecutor said Johnson and Viera drove to 72nd and MacArthur avenues to watch the fight but instead Strane “ambushed” them by shooting into Johnson’s car.
But Strane testified that he thought his life was in danger and he opened fire only after Johnson approached him with a weapon that looked like it was a long-barreled gun but later turned out to be a machete.
Strane said he was shooting at Johnson and didn’t know that Viera was in the car with him. Viera’s 5-year-old son was sitting in the back seat of the car when she was shot and watched her die.
Castillo said today that he’s “disappointed” with the jury’s verdict because he truly believes that Strane acted in self-defense.
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