Family Defends Accused Getaway Driver in Oakland Homicide, Laptop Theft

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A new plan to tackle violent crime.

That's what the City of Oakland unveiled Monday while showing off a new hire to help make the city safer.

The city's plan was announced as two men accused of stealing a man's laptop, then killing him appeared in front of a judge. Family members of one of the men, insist he had nothing to do with it.

"He's innocent until he's proven guilty," said Terresa Jones, aunt of Byron Reed.

Jones drove from Stockton to an Oakland courthouse to support the 22-year-old Reed, who is accused of killing Shuo Zeng, a research engineer who died last week after trying to get his stolen laptop back.

"My heart and prayer go out to the family. But I want prayers to also go out for my family because he's innocent until proven guilty," Jones said.

Police said on the morning of New Year's Eve, Reed was the getaway driver for his accomplice, 21-year-old Javon Lee. Court records show Reed was on parole for robbery at the time of the crime.

Witnesses said they saw Zeng leap into the getaway car. Witnesses said the car drove off, slamming Zeng onto the pavement. Prosecutors charged Lee with involuntary manslaughter and charged Reed with a special circumstance murder.

"As far as my understanding, he wasn't there at the time. My niece said that. He was at home babysitting her child," Jones said.

Both Reed and Lee have yet to enter pleas in court. If Reed is found guilty, he faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

Meanwhile, Mayor Libby Schaaf on Monday introduced the city's latest hire, Guillermo Cespedes, who will head the new Department of Violence Prevention. During his time in Los Angeles, Cespedes was called the anti-gang czar.

"He was credited for reducing violence in Los Angeles by 56%" Schaaf said.

Cespedes in a press conference on Monday said "it's not possible to arrest our way out of this problem."

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