OAKLAND (KRON) — Two men have been found guilty of murdering an anti-crime activist in Oakland back in 2013.
Twenty-five-year-old Stephon Lee and 24-year old Mario Floyd were found guilty on Thursday for fatally shooting Judy Salamon and stealing her cellphone.
The crime happened in the 2400 block of Fern Street in Oakland’s Maxwell Park district on Jul. 24, 2013.
Salamon was allegedly filming the two men on her phone as they were committing a crime at an Oakland park that she lived close to.
Prosecutors say Floyd got into an argument with Salamon because he didn’t like that she was recording them.
Lee fatally shot her and then Floyd took her phone.
Salamon was a critic of Oakland police who was seeking to hire private security for the neighborhood.
The jury found them guilty of murder and the special circumstance of committing a murder during a robbery.
Lee was convicted of an additional charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
They face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lee is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on Oct. 14 and Floyd is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18.
Floyd’s attorney, Annie Beles, said she plans to file a motion for a new trial before then. Lee’s attorney, Darryl Stallworth, said outside of court that he is undecided whether he will seek a new trial before the sentencing.
The jury of 7 women and 5 men deliberated for about a day before returning with the guilty verdict.
They agreed that the evidence proved that Floyd had gotten into an argument after Salamon started recording them with her cellphone. While that argument was going on, Lee pulled up, got out of the car and shot Salamon in the head.
They both got back in the car and drove up the street, turned around and came back. One of them got out of the car and took Salamon’s cellphone out of her hand as she lay on the ground bleeding.
The murder weapon and cellphone were never recovered, though prosecutor Butch Ford said that he believed photos of a gun and a phone found on Lee’s cellphone were them. Floyd’s DNA was found on Salamon’s fingertips.
Stallworth and Beles unsuccessfully argued that witnesses in the case were unreliable, particularly since two refused to answer questions on the witness stand and had to be jailed to get them to testify.
For those witnesses, including one person who was in the back seat of the car with Floyd and Lee before the shooting, Ford showed the jury police statements that they had made implicating Floyd and Lee. In one case, a woman told an Oakland police investigator that she would only talk if he promised her she wouldn’t have to testify.
Ford said that they were afraid to testify because it might put them or their family’s lives in danger. He said that Lee actually choked one of the witnesses, a boy who was only 11 years old at the time of the shooting, and Floyd threatened him if he talked.
Stallworth said the person in the back seat was high during the crime and didn’t have a good memory. He said the 11-year-old boy wasn’t a credible witness because he had hallucinations and heard voices.
Beles said that some of the statements were potentially coerced by Oakland police, who held the witnesses for hours and wouldn’t let them leave, threatened them with prosecution and promised they wouldn’t have to testify.