OAKLAND (BCN) — After jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked, a judge declared a mistrial on Thursday in the case of a 35-year-old ex-felon charged with murder for the death of an 18-year-old man in East Oakland two years ago in what prosecutors said was a gang-related shooting.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer issued his ruling in the eighth day of jury deliberations in the trial of Kendell Eatmon for the slaying of Alquino Rivera in the 8000 block of Ney Avenue on Aug. 3, 2013.
Jurors said they remained deadlocked today even though on Wednesday, Hymer took the unusual step of having prosecutor Patrick Moriarty and Annie Beles present closing arguments for a second time to address lingering questions jurors had about the case.
The first round of closing arguments were presented on June 4 and jurors started deliberating on June 8.
Jurors said they were deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting Eatmon. Moriarty wasn’t immediately available for comment on whether the district attorney’s office will prosecute Eatmon a second time.
Beles said, “Mr. Eatmon and I thank this jury for its service. Diligent and intelligent jurors are imperative for justice in our communities.”
Moriarty told jurors in his initial closing argument that a combination of witness testimony, surveillance camera videos and phone records proves that Eatmon is guilty of murdering Rivera.
Moriarty said the fatal shooting resulted from a turf war between two rival East Oakland gangs that began when 20-year-old Terrance Smith was fatally shot in the 2600 block of 74th Avenue on Sept. 4, 2011.
He said Smith, also known as “T Face,” belonged to the “Ney Team” gang and authorities believe he was killed by a member of the rival “76 Bandits” gang who has been arrested and is awaiting trial.
The prosecutor said Rivera was a member of the Ney Team gang with a tattoo on his arm that said, “R.I.P. T-Face.” He also alleged that Eatmon is a member of the 76 Bandits gang with a tattoo of that gang’s symbol on his arm.
Rivera’s sister, Tiana Rivera, identified Eatmon as the shooter and her testimony was independently corroborated by other evidence in the case, Moriarty said.
Alquino Rivera was only hit by one of the 12 bullets fired at him, but that bullet lodged in his chest and killed him, Moriarty said.
Eatmon, an unemployed man who lived in Hayward and has six prior felony convictions, was arrested in the 7600 block of MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland about seven hours after the shooting.
Moriarty asked jurors to convict Eatmon of murder, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and being an ex-felon in possession of a gun.
But Beles said in her closing argument that Eatmon should be found not guilty because she believes the prosecution failed to prove that he was at the scene and carried out the shooting.
After Hymer declared the mistrial, he told jurors, “This is a very difficult case and I know it’s disappointing that you haven’t reached a verdict, but it happens and it’s part of our system.”
He thanked the jurors for their diligence and said, “I’m proud of all of you.”