OAKLAND -- For a brief moment on a summer evening last year, the 700 block of Sycamore Street in West Oakland turned into a battlefield.

As children played outside, a trio of men crept along the street, stopped just before a known drug house and began to fire their semi-automatic handguns.

In less than a couple of minutes, at least 55 shots were fired toward the house filling the neighborhood with piercing sounds as bullets riddled homes, cars and people.

Otis Lee Key, 46, was shot in the back and later died. A 7-year-old boy playing outside was shot in the neck but survived. A drug dealer, Craig Phillips, was also shot but survived.

On Tuesday, a prosecutor asked a jury to convict Maurice Barrow of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, arguing that the 28-year-old was one of the three men firing guns.

But even the prosecutor, Deputy district attorney Georgia Santos, admits the case against Barrow rests largely on testimony from Phillips, an admitted drug dealer who faced a federal drug case when he was shot.

"This case is about whether you believe Mr. Phillips saw the defendant," Santos said. "Based on the case the defense presented to you, somebody is lying."

But Santos told the jury of seven men and five women that Phillips was not lying when he told the police and testified at trial that he saw Barrow shooting.


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While she admitted Phillips had a checkered past and is not the ideal citizen, Santos pleaded with the jury not to allow his character to influence facts of the case.

"We're not here to present Craig Phillips with a good citizenship award," Santos said. "This is not a morality test."

Phillips should be believed, Santos said, because his description of the shooting matched other evidence including where the shooters were standing, how they approached the scene and who was in the area at the time of the shooting.

Phillips admitted he was the "gatekeeper" to the drug house and Santos speculated that Barrow, also a convicted drug dealer, was upset with Phillips and his group who were selling drugs on Sycamore.

Barrow's attorney David Kelvin, however, said that his client is innocent and asked the jury to question Phillips' motive for testifying against Barrow.

Kelvin pointed out that police offered to help Phillips with his federal drug case if he gave a statement. Federal court records show the case against Phillips was dismissed about a month after the shooting.

"He wanted to get out of jail and he did," Kelvin said of Phillips. "He's playing the system and I'm asking that he doesn't play you."

Kelvin also asked the jury to analyze cell phone records of a phone he said his client used. Those records show that the phone in question was being used in Vallejo at the time of the shooting in West Oakland.

Santos, however, said there is no way to prove Barrow was the person holding the phone and suggested that Barrow planned in advance to have the phone he frequently used in Vallejo at the time of the shooting.

Another man charged with murder in the case, Danny Thong, had the case against him dismissed by Judge Thomas Reardon after he ruled that Santos had not presented enough evidence against Thong.

Police continue to search for a third man involved in the killing.

The jury will begin deliberating the case next week.