One of four Duarte gang members convicted of murder last December in connection with three homicides in Pasadena between December 2016 and January 2017 was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Derion Davon Lee, 36, was convicted of conspiracy, and three counts of first-degree murder, in the killings Brandon Douglas, 25, Antoine Sutphen Jr., 24, and Ormoni Duncan, also 24-years old. The men were killed during a wave of shootings connected to a gang war between Pasadena- and Duarte-based street syndicates.
Lee’s co-defendants – Isiah Daniels, 26; Pernell Barnes, 22; and Charod Robinson, 30 – also convicted, await sentencing in August and September, a City News Service report said.
The jury also found true special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder by discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, and gang allegations.
Sutphen and Duncan were shot as they attended a late-night vigil in the 100 block of West Claremont Street in Pasadena on Jan. 6, 2017. The vigil was in memory of Douglas, who had been killed in a separate shooting on Dec. 22, 2016.
“Your desire to live a gangster lifestyle… led you down a terrible path with horrific consequences for all involved, and that includes you,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo told Lee at the sentencing hearing Monday.
Olmedo called the crimes “tragic, callous and cowardly,” noting that two of the victims were killed while in mourning.
The four men were also convicted for the attempted murders of Janell Lipkin and Shamark Wright, who were shot and injured during one of the incidents, and of shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
A third defendant, Andrew Vasquez, was acquitted of all charges and released from custody in December.
Members of the families of the victims spoke during the sentencing and related how their lives have been devastated with the loss of their loved ones.
“My life has forever changed,” Kathy Morgan, Brandon Douglas’ mother, said. “We feel the void of Brandon every day.”
Sutphen’s mother, Andrea Holcomb, told the court she prays to God to forgive.
“I forgive these bad people,” Holcomb said. “I will never forgive what has happened … I am forever heartbroken.”
Nandi Hughes, who was six months pregnant with Douglas’ child when he was killed, held her two-year-old daughter and told the court she felt compelled to speak on behalf of the toddler and her nearly 8-year-old sister.
“She’s sentenced to life without her dad,” Hughes said of the younger girl. She added the older girl cries inconsolably over missing her father.
The series of violent incidents during that period between December 2016 and January 2017 prompted the Pasadena Police Department to organize a Violence Reduction Task Force which started a vigorous and comprehensive investigation into the shootings.
In the first 70 days of their work, the task force seized more than 40 firearms, including assault rifles and high-capacity pistols, and arrested 24 gang members, including eight who were charged in connection with the series of shootings.