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Jurors Vote for Execution of Killer

The gang member shot three men to death in South L.A. in 1994. He is serving a life term for another murder.

May 21, 2003|Akilah Johnson | Times Staff Writer

A gang member serving a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole should be executed for killing three men in South Los Angeles in 1994, a jury declared Tuesday.

After the jury foreman read the decision, Marcus Adams, 32, turned and smirked at the families of Lamar Armstrong, Dayland Hicks and Trevon Boyd.

"Let him go on ahead," said Doris Hayes, Armstrong's mother. "I got my justice."

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito set June 18 for the next hearing.

Survivors of the three victims applauded the verdict.

"The kids' spirits can rest," Greg Shoaf, Hicks' uncle, told jurors. "I felt like Dayland, Trevon and Lamar, their spirits were in limbo because their lives were taken from them."

Justice took nearly a decade. Adams was arrested soon after the crime, but an eyewitness, whom Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Sequeira said was threatened by Adams, recanted. It wasn't until investigators in Santa Barbara County, who helped put Adams behind bars for life for a bank robbery there, turned up new evidence that the triple murder was solved.

On Sept. 7, 1994, three friends sat in a white, two-door car near the corner of 47th Street and Western Avenue. A fourth leaned against the car, talking through an open window.

Adams walked up to the vehicle and shot the three young men in the car multiple times.

Hicks, 22, started the car and tried to duck but died before he could drive off. Boyd, 20, managed to get out of the car and make it into a nearby store. He died behind a potato chip rack. Armstrong, 19, stayed alive long enough to make it to the hospital. Before doctors could get him to surgery, he died.

"None of these families were able to say goodbye to their loved ones," Sequeira said.

"The families love their children," said Jason Rubel, one of Adams' attorneys, during closing arguments last week. "But we're talking about gang warfare. Those three young men died because [Adams' brother, a reputed gang leader] died. They didn't do it. But they were Rolling 60s (a notorious street gang). Marcus hates Rolling 60s."

Authorities said that Adams, a member of the Six Deuce Brim gang, robbed a bank in Oceanside only a few weeks after the South-Central murders. During the robbery, in which $161,000 was taken, he pistol-whipped one victim and stole $200 from him. He also carjacked three people at gunpoint.

But it was the 1997 robbery-homicide at Vandenberg Federal Credit Union in Santa Barbara County that led to Adams' arrest in the triple homicide.

As prosecutors looked for evidence to sentence Adams to death for orchestrating the robbery -- in which Christine Orciuch, 48, a mother of three, was shot to death in front of her 10-year-old son -- they contacted the lone survivor of the 1994 shooting, who agreed to testify about Adams' criminal history.

Before he got the chance, the Santa Barbara County jury deadlocked on the death sentence. Adams' attorneys were able to negotiate a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The witness testified earlier this year against Adams in Los Angeles, leading to his conviction in March, and has been relocated because of threats on his life, Sequeira said.

"This is the end," said Carolyn Boyd, who has her son Trevon's driver's license with her at all times. "I'm going to sleep tonight."

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