A San Francisco jury today convicted a 24-year-old man of second-degree murder, but acquitted him of gang charges, for a fatal shooting last year in the city's gang-plagued Western Addition neighborhood.
Police and prosecutors say Ronnie “Ron Ruger” Louvier was acting as a member of 800 Block, one of several gangs in the area, when he shot 17-year-old Marquise “Snaks” Washington, believed to have been a member of the rival Eddy Rock gang, on March 20, 2008.
Washington was gunned down by a man in a car while walking with another alleged Eddy Rock member in the 800 block of Turk Street at about 8 p.m. The gunman reportedly saw the two men, then circled the block before coming back and shooting Washington. Prosecutors said neither gang claims that area as their turf.
But jurors said following today's verdict that they felt the law on the gang charge was vague and confusing, and they were forced to acquit on that count. They were also split on whether the shooting constituted first- or second-degree murder.
Louvier, who shook his head as the verdict was read in court, still faces at least 40 years to life in prison. He faces 15 years to life for second-degree murder and another 25 years to life for the use of a firearm allegation, which the jury did find true, according to prosecutor Linda Allen.
“The way the law (on the gang charge) was written was really nebulous,” said the jury foreperson, who declined to give her name. “Because of that we had to find him not guilty.”
Another juror, Ken, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said evidence related to the gang charges showed Louvier had been in possession of “a usable amount” of cocaine at the time, but “there was no evidence about sales” for the benefit of a gang, he said.
On Tuesday the jury returned a partial verdict, convicting Louvier of additional firearm and drug possession charges.
About half the jury initially believed Louvier did belong to the gang, according to the foreperson.
“I believe he was in a gang, but the way the law was written and the evidence that was provided, there was reasonable doubt,” Ken said.
On the murder charge, “We got hung up on the premeditated part,” the foreperson said. “Some people didn't feel (first-degree murder) was proved.” She said the jury was split 6-6 and decided to convict on second-degree murder.
Louvier was arrested the morning after the shooting outside his home in San Leandro, after police observed him wiping down the driver's side door and window of his car.
A witness had given police the license plate number of the car involved in the shooting, which turned out to belong to Louvier.
Louvier's DNA was on the alleged murder weapon, a gun found stashed in a secret compartment of the car, according to prosecutors.
Louvier, however, testified during the trial that another man, Charles “Cheese” Heard — an alleged member of a third Western Addition gang who is awaiting trial for a separate 2008 murder — was responsible for Washington's shooting.
Louvier said Heard borrowed his car the day of Washington's killing and returned it afterward.
Heard, who police say is a member of the Central Divis Players, is accused of fatally shooting 29-year-old Richard Barrett outside a North Beach nightclub on Nov. 25, 2008, following a botched attempt to rob Barrett of his necklace, which depicted the Flintstones character “Bamm-Bamm.”
Louvier was known to associate with Heard's gang, which is allied with 800 Block and other Western Addition gangs against Eddy Rock, according to police.
– Bay City News