SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A gang member convicted of gunning down a rival more than four years ago in southeast San Diego because the victim had supposedly "disrespected" the defendant's gang was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years to life in state prison.
Maurice David Tucker, 23, was convicted in August of first-degree murder and an allegation that the June 9, 2007 killing of 20-year-old Stephen Cleveland was carried out for the benefit of a street gang.
Tucker's conviction came in his second trial. A different jury deadlocked 11-1 for guilt last year, when co-defendant Charles Neal was convicted of second-degree murder.
Before handing down Tucker's sentence, Judge Michael Smyth denied defense motions to dismiss charges and grant a new trial. He also denied a motion to reduce Tucker's murder conviction to manslaughter.
Prosecutor Kristian Trocha told jurors that Cleveland and his friends jumped the defendant and his friends at a Lil Wayne concert on April 28, 2007. Tucker and his gang were upset because Cleveland's gang had disrupted a community celebration at Martin Luther King Park, the prosecutor said.
Tucker and Neal borrowed a green SUV, got dressed in black and decided to go after Cleveland, according to Trocha.
Just before 9 p.m. on June 9, 2007, the green SUV pulled up in front of the victim's home as he was saying goodbye to his girlfriend, the prosecutor said.
Cleveland ran, but a passenger in the SUV got out fired multiple shots at the victim, killing him, Cleveland's girlfriend told police.
After the murder, Tucker talked about killing Cleveland, an informant told police. According to the informant, Tucker said Neal initially confronted the victim but was "taking too long," so Tucker got out and shot Cleveland in the neck. The victim was actually shot in the upper body.
Defense attorney Wil Rumble told jurors that his client was not at the crime scene and prosecutors didn't have any physical evidence tying Tucker to the murder.
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