An Oakland man was convicted today of first-degree murder and other charges for the shooting death of a Virginia man who had come to the Bay Area for a job interview at Google.
George Huggins, 26, also was convicted of the special circumstance of committing a murder during a robbery for the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Jinghong Kang, who was fatally shot in the 1900 block of Webster Street in Downtown Oakland at about 11:30 p.m. on July 18, 2010.
In addition, Huggins was convicted of attempted second-degree robbery for trying to rob Hai Huang, a dental assistant who had just cleaned Kang's teeth at her office on Webster Street that night, and of two counts of second-degree robbery for taking items from a man and woman, both 26 at the time, as they were sitting in a parked car in the 1700 block of Telegraph Avenue early the morning of June 21, 2010, several weeks before Kang was killed. Huggins also was convicted of using a gun to shoot and injure the man in the earlier incident. He faces a term of life in state prison without parole when he's sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson on April 18.
Jurors only deliberated for a day before returning their verdict against Huggins, who bowed his head and was comforted by his attorney, Annie Beles. Prosecutor Tim Wellman told the seven-woman, five-man jury that Huggins, and his former girlfriend, Althea Housley, 36, also of Oakland, targeted Kang and his friend Huang as they stood next to Kang's rental car because they "were vulnerable and were easy targets."
Wellman said Kang had flown to the Bay Area because he had a job interview at Google the next day and he had driven his rental car to Downtown Oakland to have his teeth cleaned by Huang, a dental hygienist whom Kang had met at a church conference. He said Huggins and Housley worked together as a team, with Huggins approaching male victims and Housley approaching female victims, and that was what they did when they walked up to Kang and Huang. Wellman said Housley grabbed Huang by her hair and threw her to the ground and Huggins pointed a gun at Kang and demanded that he turn over his money.
Kang told Huggins all he had was $17, and he gave Huggins that amount but Huggins still fired three shots at him, striking Kang in his leg and his chest and killing him, Wellman said. Housley and Huggins then fled, according to the prosecutor.
Oakland police obtained video footage of the suspects captured by surveillance cameras at nearby businesses and they were later arrested, Wellman said. Housley initially told police that she wasn't involved but later admitted she was present.
However, she said that Huggins was the person who shot Kang and claimed she didn't know anyone would be shot, he said. Wellman said police ballistics experts determined that the same .22-caliber handgun was used to shoot both Kang and the male victim in the earlier robbery.
Housley had faced a murder charge for allegedly being an accomplice in Kang's shooting, but on Feb. 20 she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery for that incident and to two counts of attempted robbery for the incident on Telegraph Avenue. She testified against Huggins during his trial, identifying him as the man who shot Kang and the other male victim.
Instead of potentially facing a sentence of up to life in prison, Huggins is now due to receive a sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison if her testimony is deemed to be truthful. Beles told jurors today that Huggins is innocent of murder and the robbery charges and alleged that the person shown on video with Housley was not Huggins.
Beles, who didn't present any defense witnesses, said Housley and a jailhouse informant who testified that Huggins admitted to him that he shot two people during robberies in Oakland, killing one, both had motives to lie because they were rewarded by prosecutors for their testimony. Housley will eventually be able to get out of prison and reconnect with her four children and the informant had his sentence reduced, Beles said.
Beles declined to comment on the jury's verdict.