General Crime

Rasheed Strane Gets 40 Years To Life For Murdering Woman in Oakland

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An Oakland man was sentenced today to 40 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting a 39-year-old woman and wounding her boyfriend in East Oakland last year.

Rasheed Strane, 24, was convicted on Sept. 9 of second-degree murder and attempted murder for firing shots into Joseph Johnson’s car at 72nd and Lacey avenues at about 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2013, wounding Johnson and claiming the life of Rebecca Viera.

Strane admitted during his trial that he fired multiple shots but claimed that he acted only after Johnson had threatened to shoot him during several phone calls and then drove to the apartment where Strane was living with Brittney McNary, his girlfriend and the mother of one of his children.

Strane’s lawyer, Ernie Castillo, told jurors during the trial that Strane should be found not guilty of any charges because the evidence in the case supports his assertion that he acted in self-defense.

But prosecutor Melissa Dooher said Strane should be convicted 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.

Before he was sentenced today, Strane said, “I would like to apologize for what happened to Ms. Viera,” saying her death “was very unfortunate.”

But he also said, “I would like to challenge the verdict because I feel like it was illegal. I would like a retrial and a reduction in my sentence all in one.”

In addition to the murder and attempted murder charge, Strane was also convicted of a third charge, shooting into an occupied vehicle, but that didn’t affect his sentence.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stuart Hing sentenced Strane to 40 years to life in state prison for his second-degree murder conviction as well as 34 years to life for his attempted murder conviction.

Hing could have ordered Strane to serve the terms consecutively for a total of 74 years to life but instead chose to have him serve them concurrently.

Dooher said Strane won’t be eligible for parole until Aug. 21, 2053, when he is 63.

Although Dooher and Castillo disagreed during the trial 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 took a BB gun that belonged to her boyfriend, Matthew Washington, and gave 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 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.

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.

Dooher said today that the shooting incident was “another case of a drug-influenced defendant with street gang connections trying to settle a minor dispute with a gun and the dispute wasn’t even his.”

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