After less than a full day of deliberations, jurors convicted a 19-year-old Rohnert Park man Monday of first-degree murder in a drug rip-off and fatal shooting in Petaluma in February 2007.
Bradley Blackwell, who was 17 when the killing occurred but prosecuted as an adult, faces a sentence of either 25 years to life in prison or life without parole.
In deliberations of about five hours spread over two days, the 10-woman, two-man panel all agreed Blackwell was guilty of murder.
But they split 7-5 toward guilt on whether Blackwell actually fired the gun that killed 20-year-old Uriel Carreno Feb.7 two years ago in his garage apartment on Joan Drive in east Petaluma.
That charge would have added another 25 years to his sentence.
Blackwell and Keith Kellum, 24, were both charged with Carreno?s murder and were set to be tried together with two separate juries. Both men gave statements to police that blamed the other man for firing the fatal shots.
But the day before the trial was set to begin, Kellum agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and accept a prison sentence of 15 years to life. In taking the plea deal, Kellum admitted his involvement in court and said Blackwell shot Carreno.
?Me and Mr. Blackwell went to Petaluma to a drug dealer?s house ...? to steal drugs, he said. ?I kicked the door in and Mr. Blackwell shot and killed a man.?
As the trial continued against Blackwell, prosecutors Chuck Arden and Troye Shaffer brought in several witnesses who placed both men at the scene and proved various parts of their actions the day of the killing.
?I think they put the puzzle pieces together,? Arden said of the jury. ?They had a lot of things to consider.?
Witness Jeff Gray, who has a long criminal history of drug and assault convictions and was on parole from state prison at the time of the slaying, testified that Blackwell admitted to him shortly after the killing that he fired the gun.
He said Blackwell later told him that Kellum also fired at Carreno.
Carreno was shot five times with hollow-point bullets fired from a 9mm Beretta handgun.
Testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecution, Gray said he drove back to the Petaluma house after the killing with Blackwell, Kellum, Blackwell?s brother, Colby, and a can of solvent to clean away any evidence that might have been left.
Blackwell?s attorney, Roy Miller, said he appreciated that jurors appeared to be diligent in quickly digesting a lot of information.
?There were several jurors who were not convinced from Mr. Gray that Brad was the shooter,? he said.
One juror, who asked to remain anonymous, said jurors found Blackwell guilty of murder under laws that allow a finding of guilt regardless of who actually fired the gun.
?We all agreed he was right there with Keith Kellum,? he said. ?We couldn?t all agree that Bradley held the weapon and fired it.?
The panel also found Blackwell guilty of residential burglary and attempted robbery.
Miller said he will ask Judge Ren?Chouteau to use his discretion to sentence Blackwell to 25 years to life instead of life without the possibility of parole. He also asked Chouteau to send Blackwell to a 90-day prison diagnostic evaluation to help in his decision-making.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here