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The prosecution finally rested Thursday afternoon in the trial involving two former Hancock College basketball stars charged with murder, robbery after a month of testimony and a two-week hiatus. 

Ali Mohammed and Lavell White have been on trial in connection to the shooting death of 23-year-old Terence Richardson on Dec. 30, 2014, in Santa Maria outside of the College Gardens apartment complex at 715 S. Bradley Road.

The trial was held at Lompoc Superior Court from March 6 until the case took a scheduled break March 29, and resumed at the Santa Maria Superior Court on Wednesday. 

Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch is leading the prosecution team, with defense attorneys Michael Scott and Lori Pedego representing White and Mohammed, respectively. 

White and Mohammed are charged with four counts of residential burglary of multiple homes in the city a few weeks prior to the Dec. 30 shooting. The prosecution maintains that the pair needed money and were looking for drug dealers to rob, while the defense contends that another former Hancock athlete may be to blame, and that their client's accusers have lied to detectives multiple times.

On Wednesday, Santa Maria Police Officer Shawn Fuggs, who led the investigation, testified why former Hancock athletes and acquaintances of the defendants were never charged or arrested, even after some admitted to being accomplices to multiple robberies and lying several times to detectives. 

Under the prosecution's questioning, Fuggs confirmed that no charges were ever filed against former Hancock athletes Gentry Oden, Kadeem Minor, Mike Thomas, Asaike Blake or Justin Armwood, as they all entered into a proffer agreement, which allows them immunity if they cooperate with police during questioning, and their statements can never be used against them in court.

"But these witnesses made multiple false statements even after signing proffer agreements," pointed out White's attorney, Scott. "In fact, Mike Thomas lied so many times that you recommended charges [to be filed]," and to dissolve the proffer agreement. Fuggs affirmed he had made that recommendation. 

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Fuggs also confirmed Oden had admitted to detectives that he committed and/or helped facilitate multiple residential burglaries with White and Mohammed. 

"We can't arrest all our witnesses," Fuggs explained, maintaining that "charging witnesses would complicate the process and prevent them from testifying for the people."

Testimony resumes Thursday morning. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


Courts/Public Safety Reporter