Jury Duty, Part 13: The Sentencing

In which I watch the sentencing of two of the convicts

Today is the sentencing for two of the three def…convicts from the trial I’ve droned on about. I decide to take the day off work and go watch the proceedings, for closure or whatever. Maybe curiosity? Probably closure. I am still pretty burned out and fairly depressed from the entire ordeal, so I figure I might as well see it through.

Anyway, I show up 30 minutes before the sentencing is due to occur. I stand around outside the courtroom in a veritable throng of people (compared to the crowds that showed up for the trial anyway).

I run the DA from the trial, and she hugs me and thanks me for coming for some inexplicable reason. No other jurors show up, but I didn’t expect them to.

We are seated (this time I get to sit in the spectator area, rather than up on stage like some kind of circus animal. Hooray). The judge starts off by summarizing the trial and our verdict.

They start off with sentencing for Defendant 2, one of the two minor players in the trial. He gets 50 years to life in prison; assuming no parole in the next 20 years, he’s going to die in prison. I feel ambivalent about that. I’m not a super fan of the felony murder rule, but I’m also not a fan of two people being murdered for no real reason.

After the sentencing, he is lead out of the courtroom. Then Defendant 1 is lead in, and seated. His sentence is two life terms without the possibility of parole. He spends the time making faces and mugging for cameras as the sentence was handed out.

Then, the real fucked up part happens. The families of the victims are allowed to stand at the podium and deliver statements. The statements are pretty heartbreaking, all in all. Forde’s mom reads her statement, which includes mentions of Forde’s now motherless children. Tabron spends the time actually literally laughing at her as she cried.

Any hypothetical pity that I might have had for his sentencing is torpedoed with his laughing. More family statements, and more laughing. It pisses me off.

Once the family is done speaking, Tabron is cuffed and lead out of the room to his destiny; but before he leaves he makes sure to turn and face us, extend both hands and flip us all off, laughing at us.

Fuck that guy.

And with that, the 90 day saga of my first jury duty experience is concluded.

Ex-Felon Gets 50 Years to Life For Home-Invasion Murders

OAKLAND (BCN) — An ex-felon was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for his conviction for two counts of first-degree murder for his role in the fatal shooting of two people during a home invasion robbery in East Oakland two years ago.

In December, jurors found 51-year-old Joseph Silva, 24-year-old Jeffrey Tabron, and 56-year-old Joseph Castro guilty in the shooting deaths of Noe Garcia, 28, of Oakland, and 34-year-old Trisha Forde of Union City at a house at 10730 Apricot St., near Blenheim Street, at about 4 a.m. on March 2, 2013.

In addition to the two murder counts, jurors also convicted Tabron of three special circumstance murder allegations, two for killing Garcia and Forde during a robbery and one for killing Forde during a kidnapping.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer, who presided over the case, imposed the term of 50 years to life for Silva at a hearing today. Last Friday, Hymer sentenced Tabron to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole and Castro 50 years to life. Tabron and Castro also are ex-convicts.

Prosecutor Georgia Santos said during the trial that the three defendants, plus two other men, went to the house on Apricot Street to steal flat-screen televisions and an Oakland A’s bobblehead and Forde and Garcia were killed because they were witnesses to the home invasion robbery.

Santos said the evidence in the case indicates that Tabron fatally shot Garcia but it’s unclear who killed Forde. But she said all three defendants should be convicted of murder under the felony-murder rule, which holds that if a killing occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony the persons responsible for the felony can be found guilty of murder.

Silva gave a statement to Oakland police in September 2013 in which he accepted partial responsibility for the crime and implicated Tabron and Castro, who is Tabron’s uncle. Silva retracted his statement when he testified during the trial for the three defendants.

His attorney, John McDougall, said in his closing argument in December that he believes Silva cracked under tough questioning by police officers, citing the testimony of a psychologist who examined Silva and found that he’s “an insecure, passive and dependent individual” and “has high levels of compliance and suggestibility.”

But Santos told jurors that they should believe Silva’s confession to police because it’s supported by evidence in the case.

Santos said she believes the two other people who joined the three defendants in staging the home invasion robbery were Tabron’s older brother, 27-year-old Jeffrey Tabron, and a man nicknamed “Taco” who is still at large. Jeffrey Tabron, who initially was charged with two counts of murder and had been scheduled to be prosecuted separately later this year, recently pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and will receive a three-year prison term.

Prosecutors said Silva had two prior felony convictions, Castro had 12 priors, Joseph Tabron had two priors and Jeffrey Tabron had three priors.

The Jury Duty Saga