By Jon Baird

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Prosecutors on Tuesday sought the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a standout high school football star back in 2008.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the penalty phase of the trial of a 23-year-old gang member Pedro Espinoza was underway at the Criminal Courts Building downtown.

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Espinoza’s defense attorney asked Judge Ronald H. Rose for a sentence of life without parole, claiming his client was denied the kind of life the 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw had, one filled with love, encouragement, and the hope of a brighter future.

But prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Allyson Ostrowski wants Espinoza executed for the crime, noting the defendant stepped off a curb, shot Shaw in the head, and then bragged about the execution.

Ostrowski detailed some of of Espinoza’s violent history, including one incident when he hid a shank in jail and then badly slashed another inmate.

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Shaw was murdered in March of 2008 when he was found shot in the abdomen and in the head just yards from his home in Arlington Heights, where his father found him lying on the pavement.

At the time of the shooting, Espinoza was living in the United States illegally and had just been released from jail — he had been arrested for allegedly brandishing a firearm — without immigration authorities placing a hold on him.

Prosecutors have said Shaw was gunned down while walking home carrying a Spider-Man backpack whose dominant color, red, made Espinoza perceive Shaw as a gang rival.

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