Two men who had been charged with murder for the shooting death of a former University of San Francisco basketball player in the parking lot of an East Bay Ikea store last year pleaded no contest to lesser charges today. Hyman Taylor Jr., a 23-year-old Oakland man who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was shot at about 7:35 p.m. on June 8, 2010, outside the Ikea store on the Oakland-Emeryville border.
Prosecutors said the shooting occurred after Taylor and two other men — Cassidy O’Connor and Ricky Anderson — attempted to rob a marijuana dealer they had contacted through an online medical marijuana marketplace called Budtrader.com. O’Connor and Anderson were initially charged with murder, even though prosecutors said they did not fire the shots that killed Taylor.
They were charged under California’s “provocative act” doctrine, under which a defendant can be convicted of murder if they participate in a felony that is inherently dangerous and someone is killed. O’Connor, a 21-year-old Oakland man, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit robbery and an enhancement stemming from the fact that his two companions were armed. He will get a six-year state prison term when he is sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson on Sept. 2.
Anderson, 28, of San Francisco, pleaded no contest to attempted robbery and personal use of a firearm and will get a 12-year term when he is sentenced on Dec. 12. Prosecutors said Taylor, O’Connor and Anderson arranged to meet a female marijuana dealer in the Ikea parking lot early the evening of June 8, 2010.
The Ikea store’s entrance is at 4400 Shellmound St. in Emeryville but its parking lot is in Oakland, so Oakland police investigated the crime. Prosecutors said the three men planned to steal a large quantity of marijuana from the dealer but when they started to do so, the woman’s male protector, who had been lurking in some nearby bushes, fired at Taylor’s group, hitting Taylor and Anderson.
Taylor died at the scene and Anderson, who was shot in the mouth and the jaw, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries but ultimately survived. Taylor and Anderson were both armed with guns but O’Connor, who was the driver in the robbery plot, was unarmed, according to prosecutor Greg Dolge.
A .22-caliber gun that was registered to Taylor was found next to his body, authorities said. Taylor was a 6-foot-9-inch, 245-pound center who last played for USF’s basketball team in the 2008-09 season. A USF spokesman said Taylor had been pursuing a degree in sociology but had stopped attending classes and never graduated.
Dolge said the plea agreement “is a just resolution to the case given the facts and the law.” Defense lawyer James Giller, who represents Anderson, said it would have been a gamble for both the prosecution and the defense if the case had gone to trial. Noting that two judges who presided over previous hearings in the case said it was hard to say whether the death amounted to murder, Giller said it might have been difficult for the prosecution to win murder convictions. But Giller said defense lawyers didn’t want to risk having Anderson and O’Connor being found guilty of murder and facing the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison.
Doron Weinberg, who represents Anderson, called the plea agreement “a reasonable resolution that shows that prosecutors accept the fact that Mr. O’Connor was not responsible for the tragic death of Hyman Taylor.” Weinberg said O’Connor “recognizes that his conduct was serious and he made an enormous mistake and he accepts responsibility for it.”
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