LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury acquitted a 19-year-old man Friday accused in the murder and robbery of a man who went to buy a cellphone with his teenage son in South Los Angeles.
The jury deliberated for three days before acquitting Ryan Roth of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the Oct. 19, 2013 shooting death of Rene Balbuena, 41, and the attempted murder of Balbuena’s 15-year-old son, along with robbery counts stemming from the incident.READ MORE: Son Arrested For Murder Of Mother Found Dead In Mission Viejo Home
The jury deadlocked on two robbery counts charged against Roth from an unrelated case.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus declared a mistrial on those two robbery counts against Roth stemming from an August 2013 robbery.
After the acquittal was announced, the judge ordered both sides to return to court next Wednesday in connection with the remaining two charges.
Prosecutors contended that Roth shot Balbuena three times in the neck and chest as the victim moved toward the driver’s side door of his SUV during the armed robbery.READ MORE: New Health Order Will Require Proof Of Vaccination Or Negative Test At Outdoor LA County Events Of 10,000 Or More
Balbuena’s son suffered a graze wound.
Defense attorney Anthony Willoughby countered that Markell Thomas — who was charged along with Roth — was trying to “deflect the blame.”
Thomas, 20, agreed to testify against Roth in exchange for a 26-year prison sentence, according to Deputy DA Arthur Leahy.MORE NEWS: Marsh Homers Off Kopech In 8th, Angels Top White Sox 3-2
Willoughby called what happened “a tragedy,” and told jurors that “it would be an even greater tragedy to convict the wrong person of this crime.”