People come to rely on their smartphones more and more in their daily lives. Phones help people keeping in contact with friends, look up restaurant reviews, and take selfies. For some people, losing their phone can seem like a disaster. However, when someone drops their phone at the scene of a crime, police may use it to track down a possible suspect.
Michael Horace was a motorcycle mechanic in Oakland. When recycling yard worker, and Oakland resident Tass Jackson was shot and killed, Horace said he was blocks away at his shop. However, at least two witnesses say Horace was the man responsible for the killing. According to Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Peter McGuinness, Horace also dropped his phone at the scene.
“The defendant shot him in front of two people and left his cell phone at the scene,” said McGuinness. “He didn't realize as he shot Tass Jackson in front of two witnesses.” According to the prosecution, the witnesses were Jackson's girlfriend and another friend. They were close enough to hear a conversation between the two men before the shooting. According to the witnesses, Jackson apologized for something then the killer pulled out a gun. Jackson pleaded with the man not to shoot, that the dispute wasn't that serious. Jackson turned to climb a fence when he was shot from behind.
According to Horace, the witnesses were mistaken when they identified him as the killer. The defense blames the murder on another witness who testified he fired shots at Horace after he allegedly shot Jackson. His defense called four witnesses who placed Horace at his auto shop at the time of the shooting. However, the prosecution says Horace did not know there were witnesses who identified him as the shooter.
When questioned about why his phone was at the scene, Horace said he had two phones. Horace claims he lent his other phone to a woman who lost it. However, the prosecutor claims phone records show Horace used it about 20 times that night to call friends and family members in his contact list. According to Shotspotter triangulation, the last phone call ended only about 4 minutes before the shots were fired.
Under the California Penal Code, murder is “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a
fetus, with malice aforethought.” The jury deliberated for a day and a half before they found Horace guilty of first-degree murder. Horace may face 50 years to life in prison. However, his attorney says he will appeal the case.
If you are arrested for a violent crime, your arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. Innocent people often plead guilty to crimes they did not commit because they do not have a criminal defense lawyer to fight for them. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing criminal charges in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands how a conviction can affect your future. Contact the East Bay criminal defense attorney who understands the charges you are facing, and will fight for your rights.