OAKLAND -- An East Oakland corner store clerk was found guilty of second-degree murder Thursday for shooting a customer in the back of the head after the customer punched him.

Adhem Abdulla, 23, now faces 40 years to life in prison for killing Willie Turner, 46, outside the Oakland Discount corner store in the early evening hours on Feb. 19, 2010.

"The Turner family is very grateful about this decision," said Barbara Turner, Willie's Turner's oldest sister. "We thank the District Attorney's Office and the jury."

The shooting occurred shortly after Turner punched Abdulla in the mouth because Abdulla pushed Turner's girlfriend out of the store when he caught her stealing a package of bologna for the third time that day.

Abdulla never denied killing Turner, but said he could not remember his actions just before and while he shot at Turner because he was enraged at being punched in the face.

It was a rage, Abdulla's attorney, William DuBois, argued, that was sparked by months of working in a dangerous neighborhood and having to deal with gun violence and drug dealing on a daily basis.

Oakland Discount is located at 7645 MacArthur Blvd. in an area of East Oakland that is home to frequent killings and just two blocks away, DuBois reminded the jury, from where four Oakland police officers were killed in 2009.

In making the rage argument, DuBois hoped the jury would find his client guilty of voluntary manslaughter for killing Turner in a heat of passion. That verdict would have sent Abdulla to prison for 21 years.


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"I believe the verdict is more reflective of citizens' attitude toward gun violence than it is on the individual participants in this case," DuBois said. "I'm a little shocked that the jury didn't have empathy for what it's like to be a clerk in a business at 77th and MacArthur."

Deputy district attorney Carrie Skolnick argued the case wasn't about the dangerous neighborhood but about the dangerous store clerk who had a short temper and who decided to enter a fist fight with a gun.

Skolnick urged the jury to find Abdulla guilty of first-degree murder because the then 20-year-old had time to cool down after he was punched in the face and made purposeful decisions to get his gun, walk out of the store and shoot Turner in the back of the head at least 25 feet away from the store's entrance.

In addition, evidence showed, Abdulla had to fight through two other customers who tried to stop him from shooting Turner.

Skolnick also pointed to Abdulla's actions after the shooting in arguing for a first-degree murder conviction.

Evidence showed that Abdulla tried to make it appear that he had been robbed when he shot Turner. After the killing, Abdulla knocked over shelves in his store and called 911, telling the dispatcher that he had to shoot a man during a robbery.

The jury of nine women and three men appeared to agree with Skolnick that the killing was not committed in the heat of passion. However, in reaching a second-degree murder conviction, the jury decided that while Abdulla wanted to kill Turner, he did not have enough time to plan or premeditate the shooting.

Skolnick said she was pleased with the verdict.

"I appreciate the hard work of the thoughtful jury and feel that justice was served in this case," she said. "I understand how they came to that conclusion and I think it was a just result."