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Santa Rosa man convicted of voluntary manslaughter in shooting death

  • Oscar Valencia (PD FILE)

A Santa Rosa man with a long criminal history was convicted of voluntary manslaughter Monday in a 2011 shooting death on a southwest neighborhood street, setting him up for a life prison sentence under the state's three strikes law.

Jurors deliberated two days before reaching a verdict for Latroy Clinton Sr. 41, who was charged with killing 23-year-old Oscar Valencia during a late-night confrontation outside Clinton's house.

The panel cleared him of first- and second-degree murder but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter with enhancements for using a gun and a separate charge of felony evading for leading police on a high-speed chase on Highway 101 to Marin County.

Because of Clinton's prior record, which includes strike convictions for two out-of-county robberies, he will be ordered to serve 25 years in prison before he can be eligible for parole. His sentencing date was not set.

Jurors didn't talk to prosecutors and defense attorneys outside the courtroom after the verdict was read, but Clinton's lawyer said they must have given some credence to his self-defense argument.

“I think it was a compromise verdict,” attorney Walter Rubenstein said. “They did in fact have doubt.”

The slaying happened after Valencia and three other men, including his older brother Jaime, met a group of women at a downtown nightclub.

After a night of dancing, they followed them in their car to a house near the intersection of Cumberland Street and Homestead Lane and waited outside while they changed their clothes. The plan was to continue the party at another location.

At some point, Clinton arrived in a white van and got into an argument with one of the men — an acquaintance who witnesses said owed him money.

Just what happened next is unclear. Clinton testified Oscar Valencia began punching and kicking him. He said his brother pulled out a gun and it went off in a struggle, hitting Oscar Valencia in the face.

But other witnesses said Clinton ran into his house and emerged with a chrome-plated revolver. A teenage neighbor said he looked out his window in time to see a man crossing the street with his arm extended, as if holding a gun.

At trial, prosecutor Troye Shaffer played a 911 recording in which Jaime Valenica described Clinton as the shooter. Valencia said Clinton hopped in his van and drove away.

Police chased him south on Highway 101, disabling his vehicle with spike strips. Clinton fled on foot and hid up a tree before running back onto the highway and attempting to flag down a passing car.

A CHP officer arrested him. A .44-Magnum was found along the roadway.

Clinton admitted throwing the gun out his car window. But he said it wasn't his. He said he took it from Jaime Valencia at the scene.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com

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