LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two gang members were convicted Monday of killing a 19-year-old man with special needs because he was wearing red shoes, prosecutors said.
The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated less than three hours before reaching guilty verdicts for Kanasho Johns, 29, and Kevin Deon Johnson, 26.
They were charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Tavin Price on May 29, 2015 near a South Los Angeles car wash.
Johns, the gunman, was also convicted of felony possession of a firearm.
Both men are expected to be sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison on Nov. 30.
A third man, Dwight Kevin Smith, 31, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Price’s death and is set to be sentenced after Johns and Johnson.
Deputy District Attorney Bobby Zoumberakis told jurors that Price “was not allowed to wear red shoes in that gang neighborhood.”
Price’s mother, Jennifer Rivers, tearfully embraced and thanked police officers involved in the case as they stood outside the courtroom.
She said “I’m sure (Tavin’s) smiling up there with God, saying `justice is done.”‘
Rivers told reporters that she felt “some kind of justice … I really wanted the death penalty for them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply.”
Asked what she thought of Johns leaving the courtroom with a smile on his face, Price’s mother said, “To me, he has no remorse. He just took my son’s life for nothing. He feels like he got brownie points.”
Other family members and friends wore red shoes, jackets and red T-shirts with the word “justice” on the front. On the back of the shirts was a photo of Rivers planting a kiss on her son’s forehead as he lay in his coffin.
Both the prosecution and defense agreed Smith confronted Price in a smoke shop near the car wash in the 3300 block of West Florence Avenue, while Johnson stood nearby.
The conversation and the shooting itself were caught on surveillance video, but there was no audio recording.
Smith identified himself as a gang member and said to Price, “Why are you wearing all that red? Where are you from?” according to Johnson’s attorney, Curt Leftwich.
“I don’t bang,” Price replied, to which Smith retorted, “Come out of those shoes,” according to Leftwich.
Both sides also told jurors that Hilary Wade, who is the mother of Price’s nephew and was in the store with him, told Smith that the young man wasn’t a “gangbanger” and explained that he was “slow.”
A short while later, Price was standing by his mother’s car when a gunman fired four rounds at “this 19-year-old boy who did nothing wrong and ended him” with “no hesitation,” Zoumberakis told the jury.