OAKLAND -- Julius Scott most likely will spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury found the 27-year-old guilty of first-degree murder for killing a 20-year-old woman in an ambush that was intended for her boyfriend.
After the verdict was read in court Wednesday, Scott shouted that he had nothing to do with the murder of Shanika Latham just after midnight Aug. 24, 2012. He said the same from the witness stand as he swore he lured the woman and her boyfriend to the area under the guise of selling them drugs as a favor for someone else but had no idea they were going to be shot.
But the jury focused on, among other evidence, recorded phone calls Scott made from jail in which he talked about aspects of the killing and boasted that he can't be held responsible for the "m" if police don't have a weapon.
Deputy district attorney Autrey James also told the jury that if they believed Scott's story, it still means he's guilty of murder for aiding and abetting. Under that theory, Scott can be found guilty because he lured Latham and her boyfriend, Lawrence Nero, to the corner of 48th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard with the knowledge that they would be killed.
However, James said he had enough evidence to prove that Scott was the actual shooter, even though a motive for the killing was not established and the murder weapon never found.
"I'm just glad the jury thought the way I did," James said after the verdict was reached Wednesday. "I am very pleased for the family (of Latham). It has been a very tough ordeal for them."
Surveillance video from a corner market showed a man hiding behind a car before Nero and Latham arrived. That video also showed that the man, who was not clearly visible, walked to the scene from the direction of Scott's house and after the killing walked away back toward the direction of Scott's house.
The shooting was not captured by the surveillance camera.
In addition, cellphone records showed that Scott and Nero spoke about 20 minutes before the shooting. Those records also established that Scott and Nero had met four days earlier for a drug deal.
In addition, Nero identified Scott as the shooter both in police interviews shortly after the shooting and in court when he testified.
But Scott's attorney Jo Ann Kingston said she thinks her client is innocent and was set up as a pawn.
She said another man, Donnel Artis, should be arrested and charged in the case because he had a motive to kill Scott and phone records showed that he and Scott had numerous phone conversations before Nero and Latham were shot.
Scott testified that Artis had asked him to be notified the next time Scott was going to make a drug deal with Nero. Scott said that Artis was upset with Nero about testimony Nero gave in a murder trial about a decade ago.
James declined to comment about any investigation into Artis' possible involvement in the crime.
"I do not believe my client did this. He did not aid and abet in his mind," Kingston said. "My guy was the perfect fall guy, at most, he committed an involuntary manslaughter."