OAKLAND -- Two reputed gang members were convicted Monday of first-degree murder and other charges for a shooting in East Oakland three years ago that claimed the life of a 3-year-old boy.
Jurors deliberated one day before reaching their verdicts against Lawrence Denard, 29, and Willie Torrence, 25, for the shooting that killed 3-year-old Carlos Nava in the 6400 block of International Boulevard about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011. The verdicts were reached on Friday but weren't announced until Monday, when 11 bailiffs were present to guard the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner.
Deputy district attorney Ben Beltramo told jurors during the six-week-long trial that Denard, the gunman, and Torrence, the driver, carried out the shooting in order to promote their gang and were targeting two members of a rival gang, Robert Hudson and Jerome Williams.
Hudson and Williams were wounded in the shooting but survived. However, one of the stray bullets struck and killed Carlos, who was with his mother and older brother as they shopped in the neighborhood. Carlos was hit in the neck as his mother pushed him in a toy car stroller.
"I'm deeply grateful that justice was realized through the jury's verdicts in this case," Beltramo said in a news release. "As always, our thoughts go out to the Nava family and to the other victims."
Denard's attorney, Anne Beles, said, "We are deeply disappointed by the verdict."
In addition to first-degree murder, Denard and Torrence were convicted of two counts of premeditated and deliberate attempted murder, two counts of discharging a gun from a vehicle, being ex-felons in possession of a gun and multiple clauses of acting to benefit a criminal street gang.
"Every loss of life due to street violence is magnified when the victim is a child," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a news release. "The defendants' callous disregard for the safety of a neighborhood took the innocent life of 3-year-old Carlos. I hope this verdict brings healing to Carlos' family and a sense of justice to the community."
Denard and Torrence both face life in prison when they are sentenced by Horner on July 22.
Staff writer Malaika Fraley contributed to this report.
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