Oakland Defense Attorney Says Fatal Shooting Was An Accident
(by Jeff Shuttleworth) – A defense lawyer admitted today that a man who was 17 at the time fatally shot his 16-year-old friend in East Oakland in 2012 but said the shooting was an accident and he shouldn’t be convicted of murder.
In her opening statement in the trial of Kejuan Hill, who’s now 23, for the fatal shooting of Charles Hill III of Hayward, defense attorney Christina Moore said Kejuan is “responsible for the death” of Charles, who wasn’t related to him.
The shooting occurred in the 2500 block of Church Street, near the Eastmont Town Center, shortly after 10 p.m. on March 23, 2012.
Moore said the shooting “was a tragic death that was not planned and was not intentional.”
Instead, Moore said, the shooting was “a dumb joke, a prank by a teenager who was known to play around too much.”
The defense attorney said Kejuan Hill was at a party that night but left with a small group of friends, which didn’t include Charles Hill, after they heard that there would be a shooting at the party.
Two of Kejuan Hill’s friends got into an argument because one of the friends was armed with what appeared to be a non-functioning gun and the other friend said that was stupid because it would leave them defenseless if there was a shooting, Moore said.
She said one of the friends gave the supposedly non-functioning gun to Hill, who she said believed it was “incapable of firing” because it felt light, as if it didn’t have any bullets in it.
Moore said Hill decided to “walk up to his friends and play a prank” and jokingly asked Charles Hill if he had been talking about him.
Moore said, “Charles thought it was a prank,” told Kejuan Hill to “stop playing” and didn’t even look up while he was rolling a joint of marijuana.
She said Kejuan Hill then pulled the gun out and it suddenly discharged and struck Charles Hill, killing him almost immediately.
Kejuan Hill didn’t go to the police after the shooting because “he grew up in East Oakland, where distrust of the police is part of life,” Moore said.
She said that at the urging of his parents, Hill fled to Kansas City, Missouri, where he got a job at a Denny’s restaurant using his brother’s name.
Acting on a tip, a U.S. Marshals Service-Kansas City Police Task Force arrested Hill at the Denny’s on Oct. 26, 2015, three-and-a-half years after the fatal shooting.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Kejuan Hill as an adult even though he was only 17 at the time of the fatal shooting.
Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty told jurors that he thinks the shooting was intentional and they should convict him of murder.
But Moore said they should only convict him of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.