Jurors who will ultimately decide whether a Lompoc gang member is guilty of murder heard for the second time this week that Charles Alonzo Owens shot and killed a rival gang member in late 2007.
Owens, 27, who is also a known member of the Six Deuce Brims gang in Lompoc, has been charged with first-degree murder for the June 11, 2007, shooting death of Michael Jason Spradling, also of Lompoc.
He is also facing charges of participating in a criminal street gang, as well as charges of domestic battery, attempted forced oral copulation, forced sodomy, rape and witness intimidation stemming from a separate incident.
Owens was arrested for the murder more than four years after the fatal shooting, which was considered a cold case by police, while he was in custody at County Jail for an alleged parole violation.
On Friday, Owens’ former cell mate and fellow gang member, Labarron Reynolds, 31, told jurors while he and Owens shared a jail cell at Santa Barbara County Jail, the man told him he shot and killed Spradling.
“He told me that he had murdered someone in the alley; He killed an esse,” said Reynolds, who is in custody at County Jail and was granted immunity for his testimony. “He saw (Michael Spradling) slipping in the alley, and I guess he started shooting him.”
Asked to clarify the meaning of “slipping,” Reynolds said it meant Spradling was alone and not aware of what was about to transpire when he entered the alleyway. He also testified Owens told him he shot Spradling three times — in the head, chest and groin.
Prosecutors allege the then
25-year-old Spradling was shot in the head, torso and groin by Owens in an alleyway in the 400 block of North M Street. He died two days later at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Under cross examination, Reynolds admitted he was a heavy drug user — marijuana and PCP — and he’s under the care of a psychiatrist, who is treating him for anxiety and hearing voices.
Investigators learned Owens was a suspect in Spradling’s death after fellow gang member, Laurence Faulkner, was arrested by Lompoc police for robbery and kidnapping.
He told police about the shooting in an attempt to reduce his prison sentence, and testified Thursday that Owens also told him after the murder that he shot and killed Spradling.
Anthony Best Jr., who was with Owens at the time of the alleged shooting, testified that the pair went “hunting for Mexicans” on the night of the murder and found Spradling, who was a former member of the mostly Hispanic, Lompoc-based VLP gang.
Best told jurors he lured Spradling into the alley under the pretense that he would sell him some marijuana and then Owens shot the man.
Testimony in the case will continue Monday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria. The case is being heard by Judge Rick Brown.