Jurors today found one defendant guilty of murder and a co-defendant
guilty of assault with a firearm.
The jury, however, deadlocked on all the felony charges involving
a third defendant, Corey Lamar Johnson.
The trio -- Brian Bilal Starks, 38, Terrance "Terry" Morrow, 31,
and Johnson,34, -- were involved in a drug deal that left Michael Wade dead and
Kenneth Pecaro wounded on Nov. 9, 2009.
According to court testimony, Wade and his friend Darrell Babagay wanted to
buy a large quantity of cocaine for more than $55,000, and Pecaro was going to
set up the deal with Starks, who knew Pecaro from prison. Starks, in turn,
recruited Morrow and Johnson.
Prosecutor Maeve Fox claimed that Starks, of Camarillo, lured Wade
and Pecaro to an Oxnard residence on South E. Street in Oxnard to rob them;
Defense lawyers countered that Wade and Pecaro had no money and so, there is no
Jurors found Starks guilty of first-degree murder with great
bodily injury; assault with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Morrow, of Oxnard, who was also on trial for murder and other
felony charges, was found guilty only of assault with a firearm for shooting and
wounding Pecaro during a struggle for a gun.,
Jurors deadlocked on the murder and other felony charges against
Johnson who was accused of being an aider and abettor during the murder.
The jury foreman told Judge Charles Campbell that the votes were pretty much split 6 to 6 on the remaining charges including conspiracy and robbery.
Johnson's lawyer Willard Wiksell said the jury did a really good
job, asking a number of questions during their deliberations.
"They did a very hard job. I cannot fault the jury in anyway," he
said. "Mr. Johnson, he got justice."
Wiksell temporarily substituted for Morrow's lawyer Charles
Cassy who was unavailable for comment. Stark's lawyer Gay Zide with the
Public Defender's Office declined to comment as she left the courtroom.
Jurors couldn't decide the whether the trio was trying to rob
Wade, Pecaro and Wade's friend Darrell Babagay. He didn't go to the residence
where the drug deal was to take place.
"Our position was that there was not a robbery and the jury did
not find that there was a robbery," said Wiksell. "That wasn't resolved, and I
don't think it will ever be resolved."
Adding that Johnson was at the South E. Street residence because
he was asked to provide a place for a cocaine deal.
Wiksell said his client's role in this incident was "so minor"
that it was difficult for anyone to say he committed a crime.
Before the jurors came into the courtroom with their verdicts, Johnson
pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and admitted to
having two felony strikes against him. He will be sentenced to seven years in prison on that charge.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell set the
sentencing for the three defendants on June 5.
The prosecutor is expected to decide whether the District Attorney's
Office will retry the felony charges against Johnson and Morrow that jurors deadlocked