18th ST/Maze

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18th ST/Maze

Post  Ty on Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:36 am

Retrial begins in 2007 murder case

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
10/08/2009 06:10:03 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO - Jarrett Ojomoh was walking to work with a friend through a tumultuous Westside neighborhood when he was shot and killed in 2007.
Both men worked with Ojomoh's mother at a real estate business, and they got caught up in a shooting that prosecutors say was gang payback.

The man suspected of firing the gun, Robert Harold McKinney, is back in San Bernardino Superior Court for a re-trial on charges of murder and attempted murder. Testimony began Thursday morning, following the lawyers' opening remarks.

Ojomoh was shot on April 11, 2007, as the pair walked east on 19th Street, near Medical Center Drive, in the area near the Dorjils apartments.

"Unfortunately, there was a lot of gang turmoil during that time," Deputy District Attorney Lisa Rogan said in her opening remarks. Specifically, the Delmann Heights and 18th Street Maze gangs were fueding, she said.

Neither Ojomoh or his friend were gang members. But Ojomoh was wearing a red sweatshirt and his friend's brother was linked to the Delmann Heights gang, say prosecutors.

Two cars pulled up as the men walked. Gunshots were fired, and the two men ran. The friend scaled a wall and escaped, but Ojomoh was shot and later died at his girlfriend's nearby apartment.

The defense told the jury that there is no physical evidence linking McKinney to the shooting. There are neither fingerprints nor a discarded weapon that link to McKinney, Deputy Public Defender Rod Curbelo told the jury.

Both sides point to witness credibility as significant to the case. Witnesses reportedly identified McKinney as the shooter to police, say prosecutors. But the defense counters that witness accounts are inconsistent.

Also, a key witness who reportedly identified McKinney as the shooter was shown only one photo by police and not asked to choose the suspect from a "six-pack," explained Curbelo. The photo was not signed or initialed by the witness, as is the procedure, he said.

"I submit to you that it was because the police had already made up their minds," Curbelo said.

McKinney faces charges of murder and attempted murder, including special allegations for the use of a handgun and for promotion of a street gang. At McKinney's first trial in February, a jury deadlocked on the charges against him.

The shooting, say prosecutors, was a gang retaliation hit for the death of Edward Griffin, who was fatally shot inside a car at the intersection of Ninth Street and Medical Center Drive, in San Bernardino, in February 2007. Coincidently, Griffin's death was also payback for another shooting, authorities say.

McKinney was arrested in March 2008 in Monroe, La., during a drug sales investigation, according to an arrest affidavit in Ouachita Parish. He reportedly told authorities there his name was Montae Taylor, and he was arrested with a .357-caliber pistol and two bags of marijuana in his jacket pocket.

Ty
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