OAKLAND -- It took a jury less than three hours Thursday to find Michael Peau guilty of first-degree murder for shooting a former friend 10 times in the middle of the day on a West Oakland residential street.
In a resounding rejection of Peau's claims that the killing was self-defense, a jury of seven men and five women found the 24-year-old guilty of first-degree murder and for using a gun to kill. Peau now faces 50 years to life in prison when he is sentenced later this year.
"I'm glad the jury saw that the evidence contradicted (Peau's) claims of self-defense and arrived at a just verdict," said deputy district attorney Luis Marin.
Peau shot and killed Roberto Guzman Jr., 20, at about noon on Sept. 24, 2011 as Guzman was working on his car in front of a house he shared with his girlfriend's family.
The shooting occurred shortly after Peau sold the father of Guzman's girlfriend a stolen car without telling the father, Gerardio Vasquez, that the car had been taken during a carjacking earlier in the month.
Vasquez was almost arrested as he tried to register the vehicle, sparking a feud between Peau, Guzman and the Vasquez family. Vasquez never told police that Peau sold him the car but told Peau to stay away from his family because Peau could no longer be trusted.
Three days before the shooting, Peau came around to the family's house and Guzman told him to leave. It was a confrontation that made Peau feel disrespected
A witnesses testified that she saw Peau drive by Guzman three times before Peau got out of his car, had a brief conversation with Guzman and then unloaded his .9 mm semi-automatic handgun at the 20-year-old. The witness said she saw Peau continuing to fire even after Guzman fell to the ground.
Guzman was found dead at the scene with 10 gunshot wounds, some of which entered his back. A medical examiner also found that some of the shots likely entered Guzman's body when he was on the ground.
Peau, however, testified that the killing was self-defense. Peau said he shot at Guzman after Guzman tried to attack him with a screwdriver.
But, Peau said, he couldn't remember anything after shooting the first four bullets and claimed he panicked afterward as he tried to explain why he tried to hide his car and lied to police about the incident when he was caught several days later.
David Bryden, Peau's defense attorney, said he respected the jury's decision but was "shocked" that the jury found his client guilty of the maximum punishment sought. At the most, Bryden said, his client should have been found guilty of second-degree murder because he did not believe the shooting was premeditated.
But, Bryden said, the jury could not get past the fact that Peau fired 11 shots at Guzman with 10 shots hitting him.
"They just couldn't get over the fact that there were 11 shots fired," Bryden said. "Somewhere between the four and 11th shot, they believed my client had time to deliberate his actions."