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Friday, 9 March 2012

Richmond gangster convicted of freeway murder, 2009 crime spree in Richmond and Oakland

08:44 | ,


A notorious Richmond gangster is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after a Contra Costa jury on Thursday convicted him of a March 2009 freeway murder and a September 2009 shooting spree in Richmond and Oakland. Joseph Blacknell, 21, shook his head "no," and some members of his family cried out in tears as the court clerk read the first of 20 guilty verdicts. Blacknell, whose attorney argued he was innocent of the crimes, was found guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and shooting into an occupied vehicle in the March 10, 2009, Interstate 580 shooting that killed 21-year-old rapper Marcus Russell and wounded Russell's girlfriend. He was found guilty of multiple counts of attempted murder, street gang terrorism, carjacking, conspiracy and other felonies in connection with shootings in Richmond and West Oakland on Sept. 13, 2009, in which four people were shot. The jury acquitted Blacknell of two counts of attempted murder in connection with two people shot outside a Richmond apartment building that day. Blacknell faces life in prison without possibility of parole for Russell's death, and more than 150 years to life in prison for the crime spree, deputy district attorney Derek Butts said. "This is an important verdict for the city of Richmond," Butts said. "It ends the career of someone who, at the time in 2009, was one of the most active and prolific shooters in the city of Richmond in Advertisement years." The jury deliberated for nine days before convicting Blacknell. It took nearly an hour for the verdicts to be read because each felony charge carried various special allegations for gun use and gang participation. In his opening statement to jurors in January, Butts said that Blacknell killed Russell -- who rapped under the name Young Smacker -- upon stalking him after a well-publicized photo shoot. Russell had formerly been a rival of Blacknell's South Richmond gang. The September 2009 crime spree was to mark the three-year anniversary of the murder of Blacknell's close friend, a fellow gang member, Butts said. Among the shootings that day, Blacknell and his associates unloaded 29 rounds into a car containing a 30-year-old man and his 10-year-old niece at Eighth and Adeline streets in Oakland. The man was wounded, but the girl was unharmed. Blacknell's sentencing date will be chosen later this month.

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