Oakland Man Convicted For 2010 Murder

Brian Brown shot and killed James Wilkins outside an East Oakland liquor store

Thursday, Mar 7, 2013  |  Updated 7:22 PM PDT
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Oakland Man Convicted For 2010 Murder

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An Oakland man has been convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a man outside an East Oakland liquor store nearly three years ago.

Jurors deliberated for less than 90 minutes before reaching their verdict late Wednesday afternoon against 26-year-old Brian Brown for the death of 32-year-old James Lee Wilkins outside the store in the 4800 block of Melrose Avenue on July 23, 2010.

Prosecutor Mas Morimoto said Brown and Wilkins had an ongoing feud that dated back to January 2010, when a mutual friend saw Brown with a gun near the store and when the friend asked Brown what he was doing Brown said he came to the area to kill Wilkins.

However, he said the nature of the feud between Brown and Wilkins wasn't made clear.

Morimoto said no one saw Brown shoot Wilkins as he sat in his car in front of the liquor store that day, but the same mutual friend saw Brown talk to Wilkins then go back to his own car, pull out a gun and walk back toward Wilkins.

Morimoto also said a passing motorist heard shots and saw Brown and an unidentified man backing away from Wilkins' car and saw Wilkins open his car door and collapse to the ground.

Morimoto said that when police officers came to the scene and asked Wilkins who shot him he said, "Pow," which the prosecutor said was Brown's nickname in the neighborhood.

Morimoto said Wilkins was shot in his stomach, chest and upper left buttocks and was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after the shooting.

After the shooting, Brown fled to a cousin's apartment in Sacramento but Oakland police eventually were able to locate him there by tracking his cell phone, according to Morimoto.

The prosecutor said Brown refused to surrender to police when they surrounded him at his cousin's apartment, so they had to call a SWAT team and fire tear gas into the apartment complex to finally force him out.

Morimoto said that when officers drove Brown back to Oakland he tried to bribe them by offering them $80,000 if they would set him free.

The officers didn't accept the bribe but instead recorded the conversation and it was played during Brown's trial to try to prove his consciousness of guilt, Morimoto said.

Brown's lawyer, Joann Kingston, couldn't be reached for comment today.

Morimoto said Kingston told jurors that there are doubts about Brown's guilt because no one saw the shooting and she believes Wilkins could have been shot by the unidentified man who was with Brown, who was never arrested.

But Morimoto said he believes Brown was the shooter because he previously had threatened to kill Wilkins and was seen with a gun shortly before Wilkins was killed.

Brown said he also thinks Brown wouldn't have tried to avoid arrest and then attempt to bribe officers if he wasn't guilty.

Brown faces a sentence of at least 50 years to life in state prison when he's sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner on April 26.

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