Contra Costa District Attorney Secures Conviction in 2021 Murder Case at Center of Racial Justice Act Violations

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By Shriya Kali Chittapuram

MARTINEZ, CA –  The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office last week came to a resolution in the 2021 murder of Arnold Marcel Hawkins and the attempted murder of Aaron Patterson, a case notable for its implications under the California Racial Justice Act.

“The defendants, 23-year-old Terryonn Deshawn Pugh, 25-year-old Eric James Windom, 25-year-old Keyshawn Malik McGee, and 23-year-old Trent Allen, were charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office on a six-count felony complaint with enhancements in November 2021 (People v. Pugh, Windom, McGee, and Allen),” noted the official statement.

“The barrage of bullets killed Arnold Hawkins and injured another person,” according to the CCDA office, adding, “A joint District Attorney’s Office/FBI investigation uncovered racist text messages exchanged by Antioch police officers during the murder investigation” of the four accused.

The official statement added these messages contained “racially discriminatory language based on race, ethnicity, or national origin,” violating the California Racial Justice Act.

In March 2023, the District Attorney’s Office disclosed investigative reports detailing racial bias and animus in the text messages sent and received by some members of the Antioch Police Department, according to the report.

“The court dismissed special circumstance allegations, as well as gang and firearm enhancements on Feb. 5,” as per the court proceedings, and the DA then resolved the case with the four defendants entering pleas of no contest.

The DA confirmed Pugh is sentenced to 20 years in prison, Windom and Allen each to 19 years in prison, and McGee to 13 years, eight months in prison.

District Attorney Diana Becton emphasized, “Seeking justice for these serious offenses was complicated by violations to the Racial Justice Act. These lengthy prison sentences ensure accountability and promote community safety. Hopefully, the outcome will help to heal the loss the victims and survivors experienced.”

About The Author

Shriya, known as Kali, Chittapuram is in her final year at UC Riverside majoring in Psychology with a minor in Law & Society. Kali has had a huge passion for law since high school, and aspires to attend law school in the near future to study Film & Entertainment law. In her free time, Kali loves to write, draw, and even act in films and theater.

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