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Valley Plaza gunman convicted of first-degree murder

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Andre Ball Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder Friday afternoon for a fatal Valley Plaza shooting in 2005.

The gunman in the 2005 slaying at Valley Plaza mall was convicted of first-degree murder Friday afternoon and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Andre Ball Jr. was also convicted of special circumstances of committing a murder and using a gun in the commission of an offense in furtherance of a criminal street gang , Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael J. Vendrasco said shortly after the verdict at 4:30 p.m.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Vendrasco said he wanted to thank the members of the public who spoke in court about what they saw.

“There were some brave souls who came forward and testified,” Vendrasco said.

Defense attorney Charles Soria could not immediately be reached for comment.

The jury had to decide whether the fatal shooting was a case of premeditated retaliation or self-defense.

Ball, an alleged member of the Eastside Crips, shot and killed Deondre Marzette, 19, inside the mall on Dec. 27, 2005. Marzette was allegedly a member of the Westside Crips.

In his closing argument Friday morning, Vendrasco said Ball set up the shooting as payback against Westside Crips, including Marzette, who disrespected a woman with ties to the Eastside Crips. The woman, Dshawna Wright, has testified that someone called her a whore at the mall and she called home, spoke to her brother and told him the man may have a gun.

Both the Eastside and Westside Crips are criminal street gangs.

Vendrasco said Ball grabbed a loaded gun and went with other gang members to the mall to retaliate against the Westside Crips.

“Every single act was purposeful on (Ball’s) part to confront the Westsiders,” Vendrasco said.

Soria said his client fired in self-defense when Marzette approached him in a threatening manner. Marzette was the aggressor, not Ball, Soria said.

Also, if Ball was bent on vengeance against the Westside Crips, why did he only fire once instead of spraying bullets at the other rival gang members in front of him?, Soria asked the jury.

The jurors were dismissed to begin deliberations shortly before noon.

Tremell B. Edwards Jr., Wright’s brother, was sentenced to nine years in prison for his part in the shooting as part of a plea bargain.

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