General Crime

3-year-old Boy Carlos Nava Was Innocent Victim In Oakland Gang War

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A prosecutor told jurors today that 3-year-old Carlos Nava was an innocent bystander fatally shot in East Oakland three years ago as part of a long-running gang war between two rival factions in the area.

Prosecutor Ben Beltramo gave his opening statement today in the trial of Lawrence Denard, 29, and Willie Torrence, 25, on murder and attempted murder charges.

Beltramo alleged that the two men carried out the shooting outside of a grocery store in a strip mall in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011, “so a street gang’s reputation for violence would be enhanced.”

Beltramo said Denard and Torrence are members of the 69th Village gang and the two men who were targeted and wounded in the shooting, 39-year-old Robert Hudson and Jerome Williams, are members of the rival 65th Village gang.

The two gangs operate out of housing complexes that are located between 65th and 69th avenues near the scene of the shooting, he said.

Carlos was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time because his mother, Maria Teresa Ramirez, was taking him to the grocery store along with his older brother, Beltramo said.

Ramirez didn’t realize that “she was walking her way into a hailstorm of bullets and into a gang war that she had no part of,” Beltramo said.

The prosecutor said the 69th Village and 65th Village gangs have been feuding since the 1990s and have engaged in many retaliatory killings.

Beltramo said the shooting occurred on Aug. 8, 2011, because Denard and Torrence were driving around East Oakland that day, spotted Hudson and Williams walking unarmed on the street and decided to shoot them.

Authorities allege that Denard was the shooter in the incident and Torrence was the driver.

In addition to facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, Denard and Torrence are accused of being ex-felons in possession of a firearm, discharging a gun from a vehicle and acting to benefit a criminal street gang.

Denard has prior convictions for grand theft and possession of a firearm by a felon and Torrence has a conviction on an illegal gun charge.

Defense attorneys for Denard and Torrence are expected to present their opening statements later today.

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