LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case against two gang members that were convicted of the May 2004 shooting deaths of a Navy sailor and one of his friends.

Aaron Robinson and John Williams were convicted of first-degree murder for the May 24, 2004, shooting deaths of two 25-year-old men: Brian Butler Jr. of Gardena and Melvin Deonte Knowles of Lakewood.

The victims, who were longtime friends, were shot as they left a bar in the Hyde Park area of South Los Angeles. Authorities said they had no gang affiliation and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Butler, who was shot 11 times, had returned about two months earlier from the Persian Gulf and was preparing to ship out again. Knowles suffered nine gunshot wounds.

Authorities said the defendants went into rival gang territory in the area of Ninth and Florence avenues in retaliation for Robinson being shot himself three days earlier.

Robinson and Williams were each convicted in 2009 of first-degree murder for the slayings and were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Their convictions were upheld in January by a three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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