2017 Murder-Robbery Trial Set to Start in April

By Alexander Jimenez

OAKLAND, CA- Two men alleged to have killed a 25-year-old Bay Area resident after a failed robbery attempt are set to go to trial April 4, after evidence and motions were debated Thursday here in Alameda County Superior Court.

The focus of the hearing Thursday revolved around Odell Jones, who faces a long list of charges including murder with special circumstances, second degree robbery, and a third strike from two previous priors.

According to SF Gate and East Bay Times, Jones and a co-accused devised a scheme where the victims, who were brothers, thought they were going to buy laptops at a discounted price, but the episode resulted in the death of one of the brothers.

Jones was also involved in another robbery case in 2013 and has had a criminal background since 2008 when he was a juvenile, said prosecutors.

Defense Attorney Anne Catherine Beles was concerned that, since the 2013 robbery was similar to the 2017 case, a jury would have a difficult time in evaluating and using relevant evidence.

“The court could instruct the jury in evaluating this evidence not to consider this evidence and conclude from this evidence that the defendant has a bad character or is exposed to committing crimes,” said Judge Delia Trevino, who rejected Beles’ objection to presenting the prior conviction at all.

The judge also found that the jury would not confuse the 2013 robbery with the 2017 or current case, noting, “I’m not concerned that the similarities of the prior will have a detrimental effect in this particular case,” and noted the 2013 charge is less egregious than the current case being charged.

Next on the court’s agenda was addressing the prosecutor’s intent to introduce evidence that Jones committed an act of “moral turpitude” in a 2008 robbery when he was 16 years old.

“ I don’t think the 2008 event should be submitted. It was a juvenile finding,” argued defense attorney Beles.

If Jones were to testify, the courts did share a concern on his willingness to testify if he were to be questioned about the 2008 incident.

Beles requested to keep out the “pretty brutal facts of the case,” and warn Jones, when he testifies, that he might be questioned regarding that case or agree on a question along the lines of “is it true that you pleaded guilty or admitted to a robbery as a juvenile in 2008.”

Deputy District Attorney Angelina Clay was inclined to exclude evidence from the 2008 case but suggested that Jones agrees to a waiver of some sort.

Judge Trevino ultimately decided to exclude the 2008 juvenile event, preventing the prosecution from using the case to “impeach” when Jones testifies.

During an earlier preliminary hearing, the victim’s brother pointed out and identified Jones, and Beles requested to exclude the brother’s observation in that hearing, arguing that the jury would perceive it as a formal identification.

The judge in that earlier hearing explicitly stated that the courts did not recognize it as formal identification, but referred to it as simply pointing out Jones.

DDA Clay objected to that motion, arguing that the standard for identification is higher for the courts and in this instance would have to demonstrate that there was a horrible misidentification in that hearing in order to exclude.

The motion to exclude this aspect during testimony was denied by the judge, who agreed that the observation will not be referred to as an identification.

The courts are set to reconvene on April 4, for jury selection and questionnaire.

About The Author

Alex Jimenez is a 4th year politcal science major at the University of Calfornia, Berkeley. He has future aspirations to attend law school and is from Pleasanton, Ca.

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