California Appeals Court refuses to review case in gang-related incident which eventually claimed three lives
Published : Thursday, August 1, 2019 | 5:41 AM
The horror of the tragic shooting death of a popular Pasadena youth coach on Christmas Day 2012 can never truly be over for those who loved him, but the judicial process to keep his killers behind bars may have ended Wednesday in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.
The court upheld the convictions of two local gang members for killing Pasadenan Victor McClinton, 49.
McClinton, a law enforcement technician who founded the Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League, was hit by a stray bullet in a car-to-car, gang-related shooting near his home in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue as he walked a friend back to his car after a Christmas visit to McClinton’s home.
The shooting shattered residents of the close-knit Northwest Pasadena neighborhood.
Two days after the incident, hundreds of Pasadena residents met on the steps of City Hall for a service honoring McClinton’s memory. His wife, Shelly, and two children were too distraught to attend.
A community-wide meeting was held four days later at All Saints Church where civic leaders rallied, counseled peace and urged calm.
Larry Darnell Bishop Jr. and Jerron Donald Harris, two members of the Pasadena Bloods, were convicted in April 2016 of first-degree murder for McClinton’s slaying. They were also each convicted for the attempted murder of their intended target, gang member Damion Taylor, who was wounded and crashed the red Ford Focus he was driving into a tree.
Bishop and Harris were eventually sentenced in 2017 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after the second of two trials. The first trial ended in a mistrial in 2015.
In that 2015 trial, McClinton’s wife told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that she heard the gunshots that afternoon, assumed they were fireworks, then quickly realized they were not. When she went out to check, she saw her husband, lying in a pool of blood next to his car, his body still shaking. He had been shot in the forehead.
She told the jury several of their neighbors came to help as her husband lay on the ground, after she had dialed 911, but she could only hold him and tell him to just keep breathing.
“Hold on. Don’t leave,” she testified she pleaded to her husband as they waited for the ambulance.
But that Christmas Day’s tragedies were not yet done.
That afternoon, a police pursuit after a car which matched the shooting suspects’ vehicle ended in a horrific collision which killed two.
An unmarked police vehicle with flashing lights and siren, and occupied by both a Pasadena Police officer and an FBI agent, working a gang suppression patrol, attempted a traffic stop of the SUV.
The Dodge Durango had, moments before, driven past the original shooting site and rolled through a stop sign. Recognizing the SUV as matching the description of a vehicle being involved in the shooting incident, the officers gave chase, and the suspect vehicle fled, speeding south on Marengo Avenue.
Seconds later, the Durango slammed into the minivan at the intersection of Marengo and Maple Street.
Cousins Kenric Ng, 11, of Daly City, and 25-year-old Tracey Ong Tan, of Glendale, were killed in the collision. The three remaining victims were transported to local area hospitals.
Pasadena police identified the driver as Darryl Lee Williams, 22, a Pasadena resident. Inside the car were Los Angelean Brittany Washington, 21, and two more Pasadena residents, Jada Mays, 18, and Demarius Hanna, 22. All four were arrested for vehicular manslaughter.
Williams, the driver, was convicted of two counts of manslaughter and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dorothy L. Shubin sentenced him to 30 years to life in prison.
Washington, Williams’ girlfriend, who was riding in the car, pleaded no contest to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2014 and received a two-year jail sentence, officials said.
The McClinton murder case moved ahead slowly with a 2015 mistrial.
But on Wednesday, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld the convictions against Larry Darnell Bishop Jr. and Jerron Donald Harris, sentenced in April 2017 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The panel also ordered the case to be sent back to allow a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to consider striking firearms enhancements.
At the 2017 sentencing hearing for Bishop and Harris, Shelly McClinton tearfully told the judge, “There is a massive hole in my heart that will never be filled.
“How do you learn to continue on with life?,” she said. “This is pain I would not wish on anyone. It is beyond devastating. Some days are simply unbearable and you can’t imagine how to keep moving. How will I find peace? How will my family and I heal? I don’t think anyone ever heals from such a tragic, unnecessary ordeal like this. You just continue to function like a robot going from day to day, but never really getting over the grief.”