By Nancy Martinez and Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – About 10 years ago, Alexander Logan enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley and was a prized safety on the Cal Bears football team.
But, until about 2 p.m. Thursday, Logan was facing attempted murder charges in Sacramento County Superior Court. And a former teammate was his co-defendant.
After less than two days of deliberation, a jury came back with a verdict that must have felt like a Super Bowl interception for the former Cal Bear safety and now third year law student at Louisiana State University.
Judge Patrick Marlette thanked the jury for its service, and then turned to Logan and remarked that if he chose to do criminal defense after law school, he now knows “what’s at stake.” Marlette then praised the work of Logan’s private defense attorney, Justin Mixon, a partner in Criminal Defense Attorneys of Sacramento.
The Cal Bears football connection is deep.
Logan’s former teammate and cornerback, Vachel Samuels, fell into hard times with injuries, and lost his scholarship. Logan helped out and let Samuels, his wife and newborn share his apartment a few years ago.
Samuels – facing attempted murder charges as the shooter in a shooting – is set for trial in March.
“Mr. Logan is definitely grateful, and he plans on finishing his last semester of law school and then become a lawyer. It was very stressful for him these past three years worrying about the charges while pursuing his education,” said Mixon.
“My client was overcharged. There was no evidence he was aware of what (the accused shooter) Mr. Samuels was going to do. The jurors acquitted because they saw there was no real evidence, only baseless accusations,” said Mixon, adding that Logan’s trial was “severed” from Samuels because of the “prejudice” to Logan when they were on trial together.
The nearly three-year long case began on March 27, 2017, when Logan and Samuels were business partners in a car leasing company, Leep Transportations, Inc., and traveled from Emeryville to Sacramento to repossess a vehicle after the client with the car stopped replying to messages.
According to Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Danens, an altercation over the repossessed vehicle resulted in multiple shots being fired from a vehicle towards a residential home. One victim was injured with two bullets lodged into the victim’s right calf.
It’s alleged that Samuels was the shooter. Logan claims that he was not aware of plans, if any, of shooting the victim – and did not aid in the attempted murder.
Logan and Samuels were recorded arriving at the location of the vehicle, indicated by a location tracker on the vehicle, at 9:30 pm. After retrieving the car, Samuels decided that they should also retrieve the car keys from the unresponsive client, and began knocking at every house of the residential court where the vehicle was found.
After finding the correct residence, Logan moved the car they were both in from the neighbor’s driveway to the end of the victim’s driveway. At 9:48 p.m., footage reveals the victim exiting a residence and heading towards the vehicle with Logan and Samuels.
According to witness testimony discussed during the closing statements, the altercation between the two parties lasted between two to five minutes. During this time the victim re-entered the residence to retrieve the demanded car keys. After the client gave the keys back to Samuels, shots were reported, and Samuels and Logan left the scene. A 911 call was placed at 9:53 p.m.
Prior to the March 27 incident, defense attorney Mixon said, during closing, both Logan and Samuels had an initial meeting in Martinez, CA, with the prospective client/victim. While Logan explained to the client how to operate the Prius, all communications from then on were between Samuels and the victim only. All financial aspects regarding the leased vehicles were managed solely by Samuels.
Danens suggested that if this were a legitimate business, law enforcement could have been called for repossession of the vehicle, and that there was no reason to drive from Emeryville to Sacramento late at night.
Danens said the confrontation was planned by Logan and Samuels, and that it was not possible that Logan was not aware of what Samuels was doing by knocking on multiple doors and creating a “raucous” in an attempt to get the victim to exit his residence.
Logan testified that he – while Samuels was creating the “raucous” – was hanging out in the car, scrolling through Instagram. That was supported by video, that showed Logan exiting the vehicle and leaning on the car while the other two individuals were arguing. Preliminary hearing testimony by Logan suggested that he simply may have thought it was a joke and that the situation was fine, said his attorney.
Danens countered in closing that Logan was “a smart individual” in law school, and he knew that this was not a small deal and exited the vehicle to show the victim that he was there as a symbol of being “down to whatever happens.”
DDA Danens also told the jury that after the keys were given back to Samuels, Logan testified that the victim said he was not going to be giving them any money and walked away. Shots then rang out, and six bullet casings were later found at the mouth of the residential court.
The prosecution’s argument appeared to rest on disputing Logan’s claim that he was ignorant of what Samuels had planned, and that the incident, in fact, was really caused not by the car repossession, but by the disrespecting of Samuels and Logan by the victim.
In effect, Danens said to the jury that it was a drive-by shooting because if it was a repossession, this would have occurred during business hours. She concluded by stating that Logan and Samuels were business partners, they both were aware of what was going to happen, and that Logan should be charged with aiding and abetting to attempted murder.
Logan’s attorney Mixon, though, kicked off his closing statement by stressing that to be guilty there “must be evidence,” explaining that no matter what the prosecution charged, they were allegations only – but not solid evidence.
According to the prosecution, Logan drove away slowly so that Samuels would be able to shoot the victim.
However, the defense argued that Logan had testified that he drove in this manner because he initially believed his car was the one being shot, and that he ducked and drove away slowly, fearing that he would be shot if he looked up. His lawyer said that bullet casings that Logan heard bouncing off the car were actually caused by Samuels shooting out the window.
Mixon told jurors that there is no evidence of messages or conversation between Samuels and Logan containing any discussion of plans, and that, in fact, it was a “spontaneous” act by Samuels alone.
The victim even testified Logan wasn’t involved, said Mixon, noting that it was a “life-threatening” emergency and by driving away Logan acted in “self-preservation” only.