General Crime

* Damon Jones was Sentenced to 50 Years to Life for the Fatal Shooting of His Cousin in Oakland

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An Oakland man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting his cousin three years ago, a convicted felon who prosecutors admitted had a reputation as a bully. Damon Jones, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder last month for the death of 22-year-old Wayne Griffin in the 900 block of Willow Street in Oakland at about 5:40 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2009.

Jurors, who deliberated for less than a full day, also found Jones guilty of an enhancement clause of intentionally discharging a gun to cause death. Prosecutors said the shooting occurred after Griffin, who had recently been released from state prison, confronted Jones about a fight a few days earlier between Jones and Griffin’s brother. Although many people described Jones and Griffin as being close friends, the two men exchanged punches and Griffin won the fight, prosecutors said. Jones then went to his nearby car and retrieved a semiautomatic handgun, according to prosecutors. They said he later admitted that he had a reputation of playing with guns and of being a triggerman in the neighborhood.

Prosecutors said Jones shot Griffin, who was unarmed, in the back of the right leg and Griffin fell to the sidewalk and pleaded with Jones to stop. But they said Jones continued firing his gun and shot Griffin a total of 10 times, hitting him in the left buttock, left arm and left leg with several of the bullets passing into his torso and piercing vital organs and arteries. Griffin died of multiple gunshot wounds at Highland Hospital in Oakland a short time later. Jones fled the area but was arrested two months later in Richmond in possession of another firearm. Prosecutors said Jones admitted to carrying out the shooting when he was interviewed by Oakland police but claimed Griffin was a threat to him and that he feared Griffin would come after him.

Jones’ attorney, Deborah Levy, asked jurors to convict Jones of the lesser offense of manslaughter because, she argued, he acted in imperfect self-defense, which is the honest but unreasonable belief that his actions were necessary to counter the perceived attack by Griffin. Levy argued that Jones “shot in self-defense because of his fear of retaliation” by Griffin. Before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson sentenced Jones today, Griffin’s brother called on the family members of the two young men to come together and not have any lingering anger over the fatal shooting. Griffin’s brother said the family has now lost two members with the death of Griffin and the long sentence for Jones and said it’s time to heal as a family.

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