Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

A man was sentenced Thursday to nearly 26 years in state prison for the Halloween 2010 shooting death of a 5-year-old boy, who was gunned down in his South Los Angeles back yard while wearing a Spider-Man costume.

“This was a senseless loss of a young child,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo said shortly before imposing the 25-year, eight- month prison term on Marcus Denson.

The 24-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for the death of Aaron Shannon Jr. and two counts of attempted murder involving the boy’s grandfather and uncle, who were wounded.

Co-defendant Leonard Hall Jr., 26, was convicted last May of one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder — along with allegations that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and committed the crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang — by the third jury to hear the case against him. Two other juries had deadlocked on the charges.

Hall was sentenced last July to 128 years to life in state prison.

“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Denson said just before being sentenced. “I have remorse in my heart. That’s why I came clean.”     The victim’s grandfather, William Shannon, told the judge that it’s been just over five years since his grandson was killed.     “It’s been a daily struggle,” he said. “I’m sorry that the decisions were made by the two individuals at that time for whatever reason.”     Outside court, the boy’s grandfather said he resumed handing out Halloween candy last year.     “It was too hard to do it (before),” he said. “It helped a lot … to get back into the holiday I loved so much.”

Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim said Hall was seeking retaliation against a rival gang when he opened fire around 2 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2010, as the boy and his relatives were in the back yard of the family’s home in the 1000 block of East 84th Street.

The prosecutor said Hall — a gang member who went by the nickname “Baby Skull” — and his father had previously been shot by members of a rival gang and that an older gang member had told Hall to “scope out the territory.”

Hall and Denson went into rival gang territory in the midst of a gang war and passed behind the family’s backyard. Hall stopped in the alley and circled back once they’d passed the yard, returning to shoot the boy and his two relatives, who had no gang affiliations, Kim told jurors.

Denson told police when he was arrested that Hall was with him in the alley behind the boy’s house and was the gunman.

Hall’s attorney, Carol Ojo, said the prosecution’s case relied on eyewitness testimony, contending there was “absolutely no physical or forensic evidence” of Hall’s involvement.

After the verdict was handed down, she maintained that her client was “absolutely 100 percent innocent. He was not there. He was not present at the time of the incident. He did not shoot the little boy. He’s not guilty.”

Hall is appealing his conviction.

— City News Service 

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