A gang member was sentenced Friday to a pair of consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of a 22-month-old boy and the toddler’s uncle, who were struck by stray gunfire in South Los Angeles 3 1/2 years ago.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe also ordered Davion McClelland, 21, to serve an additional 50 years to life in prison.
McClelland was convicted Sept. 18 of two counts of first-degree murder for the May 23, 2011, shooting deaths of Joshua Montes and his uncle, Josefat Canchola, along with two counts of attempted murder involving the intended targets.
Jurors found true a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with gang and gun allegations.
Deputy District Attorney Russell Moore said McClelland and an accomplice rode bicycles into neighboring gang turf in an effort to locate rival gang members and that one of the two began firing at two men, who hid behind a car.
None of the shots hit their intended targets, but the toddler and his 46- year-old uncle — who was holding the boy — were struck by the same bullet, which went across the street, through a vacant lot, through a fence and into a backyard, the prosecutor said.
The toddler died the same day, and Canchola died two days later.
“If there’s a reasonable doubt in this case, it’s as to whether (the) defendant was the actual shooter. On the other hand, there is no reasonable doubt that defendant was one of the two young men on bicycles,” Moore said, telling jurors that the evidence “establishes the defendant’s guilt … beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In his closing argument, defense attorney Marc Lewinstein countered, “My position is he wasn’t there. They haven’t proved he was there.”
McClelland’s attorney said there was “enormous pressure” on police to solve the case, telling jurors that authorities had to “make the case fit” after McClelland’s arrest.
He urged jurors to set aside their emotions, saying that he understood they were angry about a “senseless tragedy.”
The defense attorney filed a notice of appeal on behalf of McClelland, who lost a last-minute bid to represent himself at his sentencing hearing.
No one else has been charged in connection with the crime.
—City News Service
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