Antioch rapper ‘Billy Bankroll’ convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Oakland nightclub shooting
A rapper cried tears of joy on Tuesday when jurors acquitted him of murder charges for a fatal shooting outside of a nightclub in the heart of downtown Oakland three years ago and only convicted him of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
After four days of deliberations, jurors found Billy Shaffer Jr., 33, of Antioch, a convicted felon who has performed under the names Billy Bankroll and Wild Bill, not guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, jurors also convicted Shaffer of personally using a firearm and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.
Shaffer faces a maximum state prison term of 14 years when he’s sentenced later this year. Before that, there will be a hearing on the defense motion for a new trial on Oct. 13.
Alameda County prosecutor Jimmie Wilson alleged in his closing argument last week that Shaffer was the aggressor in a fight outside the Bella Ultra Lounge at 11th and Clay streets at 1:18 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2014, that ultimately led to the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Connie Sowels III of Berkeley.
Wilson said the fight began when Shaffer snatched a gold chain from Sowels’ neck and said Shaffer shot and killed Sowels when Sowels fought and tried to get the chain back.
But Katherine Isa, one of two defense attorneys who represent Shaffer, alleged that Sowels started the fight when the two men quarreled over a woman Shaffer was leaving the nightclub with.
Isa said Shaffer acted in self-defense while he was prone on the ground while Sowels was straddling him and beating him up.
Isa said Shaffer “reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of suffering great bodily injury or being killed.”
Referring to Shaffer’s 2010 conviction for possessing a gun he was not registered to own in Sacramento County, the defense attorney said, “Even an ex-felon with a gun has the right to defend himself when the elements of mutual combat are met, as they were in this case.”
Sowels was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland after he was shot but was pronounced dead a short time later.
Shaffer was arrested 12 days after the shooting after police pulled him over for traffic violations.
Wilson said it might not have been wise for Sowels to try to get his gold chain back from Shaffer given the fact that Shaffer was armed with a gun but he said, “You can’t blame the victim for deciding to get his property back.”
Wilson said Shaffer didn’t bring his gun with him when he went into the nightclub but later on he went out to his car and retrieved it, which he said he believes shows that Shaffer had a malicious intent.
Peter Fitzpatrick, another defense attorney for Shaffer, said Wilson failed to prove that Shaffer planned to rob Sowels and told jurors that under those circumstances they couldn’t use the felony murder rule to convict Shaffer.
Fitzpatrick and Isa hugged Shaffer and dabbed his tears with facial tissue on Tuesday after jurors acquitted him of the murder and voluntary manslaughter charges.
Wilson declined to comment on the jury’s verdict.
Oakland teen acted in self-defense in
January killing, attorney says
OAKLAND — The attorney for a 19-year-old Oakland man charged with murdering an ex-convict outside an Adams Point market said Thursday that his client shot the victim in defense of himself and an acquaintance.
At a bail hearing for Luis Alfaro, attorney Peter Fitzpatrick said that Alfaro shot and killed Alfred Nunnery Sr., 38, on Jan. 29 as Nunnery and a second man were chasing a third man with guns.
Fitzpatrick said that just a couple hours before the fatally shooting outside a market at Harrison and Pearl streets, Nunnery and the other gunman had robbed his client at gunpoint.
This matter resolved for an involuntary manslaughter conviction for credit for time served on the date of trial.
Man Acquitted In Metreon Murder,
Inconsistencies In Case Cited By Jury
San Francisco – A 26-year-old Oakland man accused in the 2007 slaying of another man outside a San Francisco nightclub was acquitted of murder today as jurors said there was not enough evidence police had arrested the actual gunman.
Kenoye Stroman was arrested in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2007, following the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Ronald Jacques, of San Francisco, outside Jillian’s at Fourth and Mission streets. He had been in a colorful limousine decorated with racing stripes that was seen fleeing the shooting and was pulled over by police in Oakland.
A Glock 9 mm used in the killing was found hidden in a compartment in the limo, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorneys argued that another man in the limo had been the actual shooter, and after five days of deliberation, the jury early this afternoon found Stroman not guilty.
Stroman hugged his attorney and his family wept in the courtroom as the verdict was read.
“It was a tragedy for everybody,” Stroman’s attorney, Peter Fitzpatrick, said outside the courtroom. “I’m sorry the (Jacques) family lost their son, but convicting the wrong person does not make the tragedy go away.” Read More
Crime lab fallout: Drug defendants go free
(03-10) 20:32 PST SAN FRANCISCO — It was Justin Belton’s lucky day.
Belton, 30, pumped his fist in victory Wednesday as he left court after San Francisco prosecutors dropped a felony heroin sales case against him.
His was one of 25 drug cases dismissed at the Hall of Justice because of questions surrounding the police crime lab and a former technician there who is suspected of stealing and using drug evidence.
On Tuesday, police said they were shutting down the lab immediately and had ordered an audit of the operation.
“Thank God it got dropped. Now I can get on with my life,” said Belton, who was surprised but pleased to learn he was off the hook.
He said he hoped to land a job and be long gone should prosecutors ever refile charges against him. Read More
HIV transmission case tossed out Man didn’t
intentionally infect, judge finds
December 10 – A San Francisco judge Tuesday found insufficient evidence to support charges that a former San Francisco health commissioner had intentionally infected sexual partners with the virus that causes AIDS.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge Kay Tsenin to throw out a grand jury’s indictment in the case marked the first-ever judicial review of a 1998 state law against knowingly and deliberately infecting partners.
Prosecutors alleged that Ronald Gene Hill, 46, of Grass Valley (Nevada County) engaged in a pattern of soliciting sex with men on the Internet and falsely telling them he wasn’t infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.
At least two men infected with HIV told the grand jury that they had had sex with Hill and that he had repeatedly told them he didn’t have the virus. Prosecutors say that Hill took advantage of his position as a health commissioner to stave off questions about his HIV status.
But Hill’s attorney, Peter Fitzpatrick, argued in court papers and before Tsenin that there was not enough evidence to show his client had intended to infect anyone. Read More
Driver Acquitted In Death Of Baby – Child died when stroller was struck in crosswalk
(11-12) 04:00 PDT San Francisco — The 71-year-old woman who was arrested after her car struck and killed a baby boy in a San Francisco intersection has been acquitted of all charges.
A 12-member jury acquitted Albertinah Mkhize on Monday after a six-day trial that focused on her driving record and the condition of her car’s brakes during the June 18 tragedy.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for 90 minutes before finding Mkhize not guilty of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and two counts of reckless driving with bodily injury. Read More
He Said, He Said
April by Naomi Wax ….The Lister-Hill headlines hit like a bombshell, sending the San Francisco gay and HIV community running for the hills—led by Ron Hill, who literally fled the city. That left the empty legal stage to Thomas Lister and his self-proclaimed fight for justice against the city’s HIV positive former health commissioner, who seemed, in Lister’s version, at best a sick sociopath, at worst a cold-blooded murderer. (Ron Hill, having refused POZ’s many requests for comment, spoke through his public defender, Peter Fitzpatrick, who insisted only that Hill and Lister never had unprotected sex.) Though the motivations at the heart of the lawsuits are outrageously atypical and murky—why would Hill want to infect Lister? Alternately, why would Lister fabricate such a story?—the Lister-Hill case has, in the current judgmental climate, threatened to demonize all HIVers who shirk the responsibility of full disclosure and safety. Read More