Jurors on Thursday convicted a 39-year-old man of attempted murder for shooting four people, including two sheriff’s deputies, during a rampage more than three years ago.
Deonte Murray was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder, four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count each of robbery, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Murray faces life in prison when he’s sentenced at a later date.
“Today, justice has been served,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “This verdict reaffirms our commitment to protecting those who serve and sends a clear message that acts of violence will not go unpunished.”
According to authorities, Murray’s crime spree began on Sept. 1, 2020, when he shot a man in the leg with a rifle before stealing a Mercedes-Benz.
Then, on Sept. 10, Murray shot a man he thought was a detective near the Compton courthouse, according to authorities.
Two days later, Murray shot two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, which was captured on surveillance video outside of a Compton transit center, according to authorities.
Prosecutors say that, following his arrest, Murray attempted to justify his actions in the first shooting, saying it was the result of a personal dispute in which the man owed him the Mercedes and was taking too long to give it up. He also said he’d heard the man was spreading a rumor that he was involved in the slaying of a girl.
But according to prosecutors, the shootings that followed appeared calculated.
During the second shooting near the Compton courthouse, prosecutors say Murray thought the man he shot was a detective, and fired four shots through the door of the car and one through the windshield.
A recorded conversation at the courthouse between Murray and a woman later revealed that the 39-year-old was upset that the shooting hadn’t appeared on the news, according to authorities.
Following the shooting of the two Sheriff’s deputies, Murray drove the stolen Mercedes behind a school and was recorded telling another man “I smoked those motherf—ers, I smoked those f—ing pigs,” prosecutors said.
Nobody died in any of the shootings, and Murray, according to prosecutors, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2020, in connection to the carjacking.
Prosecutors say he led police on a chase in which he tossed a ghost gun from the Toyota Solara he was driving. He then fled into a neighborhood, where he was subsequently found hiding under a chicken coop in a resident’s backyard, prosecutors said.
He was charged with the attempted murders a few weeks later.
During closing arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Lonseth argued that gun, DNA and surveillance footage evidence collected by authorities all pointed to Murray as the person responsible for the shootings.
“This is a man that shot four people, tried to kill three of them, including two deputy sheriffs he ambushed,” Lonseth told jurors. “This is a man who will do anything and say anything to avoid the consequences of what his actions are.”
Though Murray’s attorney Katie Hardie never denied her client committed the shootings or was a felon in possession of a gun, she countered, saying her client was not guilty of robbery, carjacking or attempted murder.
Hardie first used the example of the carjacking and how Murray had won it gambling, telling jurors that Lonseth never presented any evidence to prove or disprove that it happened.
“If it’s reasonable to believe his version of events, you must prove him not guilty,” Hardie said, emphasizing that the burden of proof was not on the defense.
In addition, Hardie defended Murray’s action, telling jurors that 2020 was a “terrible” time for him due to the pandemic and rising police brutality. She also said Murray was experiencing homelessness, that his best friend had been recently killed, and that his actions were fueled by drugs and alcohol.
This, along with the fact that Murray was wearing sandals when he walked up to the sheriff’s SUV to shoot them, not running shoes, negated any intent to kill or premeditation, Hardie argued.
Hardie did, however, concede the charge of being a felon in possession of a gun. She explained it was a risk Murray was willing to take at the time being a Black man in Compton who needed to protect himself. She also conceded to the assault charge related to the first shooting.
“We’re not asking you to let him go, pardon his behavior, we’re asking you to follow the law,” Hardie said. “This was an impulsive and emotional decision, fueled by someone who was not in their right mental state.”
Lonseth, meanwhile, maintained that the facts were the facts: Murray committed the crimes and was guilty of the charges against him.
City News Service and Laura Anaya-Morga contributed to this report.