Palm Springs CA July 3 2010 A reputed gang member was acquitted today of charges stemming from the robbery and beating death of a 66-year-old security guard in Palm Springs.
Darius Lee, 21, was found not guilty of first-degree murder and other charges stemming from the June 9, 2007, attack on Bower Security Co. guard Wallace Brown near Rosa Parks Road and El Dorado Boulevard.
The six-woman, six-man jury received the case Wednesday morning, following a week of testimony.
During their first day of deliberations, the panelists asked to see transcripts of Lee’s in-custody interviews with detectives.
Lee’s co-defendants, Jerrett Lewis, 20, and Jamar Thomas, 21, were previously convicted of first-degree murder.
A jury rejected a death sentence for Thomas, who was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole. Lewis, who is awaiting sentencing, was a juvenile at the time of the crime and faces a no-parole prison term.
Murder and other charges were dismissed against a fourth defendant, Akil Williams, when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to hand the case
over to a jury.
In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Manny Bustamante said the victim’s attackers were Gateway Posse Crips street gang members who snuck up on Brown’s van.
He claimed Lee acted as a lookout as Thomas and Lewis hurled rocks at the van, shattering the windows, before pulling the guard from the vehicle and beating him for his wallet and cell phone.
Brown, a 66-year-old retired Marine, died at a hospital three days after being attacked, without regaining consciousness.
Lee’s attorney, John Patrick Dolan, argued that the prosecution’s gang expert presented no evidence that Lee was a member of the Gateway Posse Crips, and did not present any forensic evidence that he was at the scene of the beating and robbery.