Newly elected Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price appeared in a courtroom Thursday for a hearing in a plea deal that marked one of the first significant moves of her tenure. And the news was not good.
Judge Mark McCannon, himself a former deputy district attorney for Alameda County, had previously expressed misgivings about a 15-year sentence that had been agreed upon between Price's office and the defense attorney for alleged gang member Delonzo Logwood. Logwood stands accused of three different murders that all occurred in 2008, when he was 18.
The victims were Eric Ford, 22, Zaire Washington, 24, and Richard Carter, 30, all of whom were shot separate in Oakland.
As Bay Area News Group reports from the courtroom, McCannon told the attorneys for both sides that he'd had "many sleepless nights" over the case. But the unusually light sentence clearly didn't sit right with him, and he threw it out, which sends Logwood to trial.
Further enflaming things on Thursday, Logwood took the stand to offer some sort of apology, while still ostensibly proclaiming he was innocent of three murders.
"I want to apologize for my conduct. I’m going to turn a negative into [a] positive,” Logwood said, per Bay Area News Group. "Please forgive me. I’m sorry."
McCannon responded from the bench, saying, "You can’t think an apology will make this all better," and, "What are you sorry for if you didn’t do anything?"
Price cited Logwood's remorse for his actions when he was a teenager, but McCannon said he felt there had been a lack of remorse — and on top of that, there was a statement from a fellow inmate at Santa Rita Jail claiming the Logwood was heard saying he planned on "just going bad on everybody" when he got out.
Logwood stands accused of murder for hire, carjacking, and robbery turned deadly, and separately he allegedly killed a witness who was set to testify against his stepbrother. Under the previous DA's office, Logwood had faced the possibility of life without parole.
Logwood's attorney, David Briggs, says his client is innocent, and he says that the prosecution's case is largely going to have rest on statements by "a convicted liar."
"We don’t do justice to the family or defendants or the community if we convict an innocent man," Briggs told the Mercury News.
ABC 7 was in the courtroom and tried to get a statement from Price, but she refused.
Alameda County-based attorney Bill Cole tells ABC 7 that the judge's action was pretty rare. "When you are accused of killing a prospective witness in a case, this is a direct attack, not just on the people, the state of California, but judges regard this as an attack on the judicial system itself," Cole said.
Per the Chronicle, Logwood would entered "a no-contest plea to voluntary manslaughter and a gun enhancement for shooting and killing Eric Ford, 22, on July 1, 2008," and "Murder charges would have been dropped in the deaths of Zaire Washington, 24, and Richard Carter, 30."
Having already served eight years in jail, with these charges having been filed in 2018, Logwood would potentially have been eligible for release in 2030.
Price took office in January after receiving 53% of the vote last fall, and running on a campaign centered on criminal justice reform and reducing incarceration. In an interview with the Washington Post, Price said, "We have to hold young people accountable, but we have to do it in a way that will not destroy their lives."
Price added, "We can’t throw kids away, and I can say that because I was a throwaway kid."
It's not yet clear how the DA's office plans to proceed with Logwood's case.