A prosecutor urged jurors Friday to convict an 18-year-old former Palos Verdes High School student of first-degree murder for driving the getaway car in a gang-related shooting in South Los Angeles last year that left a 21-year-old man dead, while a defense attorney countered that his client didn’t know there would be a shooting and was shocked when he heard the gunfire.
Cameron Terrell — whose case is now in a downtown Los Angeles jury’s hands — is charged with murder for the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting death of Justin Holmes, along with two counts of attempted murder involving two other men who were not injured.
The charges include gang and gun allegations.
During the prosecution’s final argument, Deputy District Attorney Adan Montalban told jurors, “The defendant didn’t care about this person … Now he’s rejoicing by making a rap song about it.”
The song was played in court interspersed with body cam footage from the aftermath of the shooting.
The prosecutor contends that Terrell is a gang member who knew there was a gang rivalry — in which a fellow gang member had been shot earlier — when he drove into rival gang territory with two juveniles who got out of the car and confronted Holmes and the other two men, who denied any gang affiliation before the shooting on 78th Street near Western Avenue.
“What do you think is going to happen?” Montalban asked the panel.
The deputy district attorney disputed Terrell’s subsequent claim to police that he thought the two might yell out or engage in a fistfight, questioning why the defendant stopped his car out of sight and let two juveniles get out of the vehicle to confront three adults if he thought it was going to be a fistfight.
“He parks and waits. The juveniles trusted this person and he came through,” Montalban said in urging the panel to convict Terrell. “It’s incredible how much evidence there is.”
Defense attorney Jovan Blacknell told jurors that his client didn’t know anyone was going to be shot on a Sunday in broad daylight.
“Cameron didn’t expect to hear gunshots. He didn’t expect any of this to happen,” Terrell’s attorney said.
“When he hears the gunshots, he’s shocked,” Terrell’s attorney said, telling jurors that the young man’s first instinct after hearing the gunshots was to “survive” and “drive a whole city block away.”
He said his client was reacting to something he didn’t expect and that he thought his two friends were in danger when he saw them running back to the vehicle, and questioned why Terrell would drive “his daddy’s car” if he knew there was going to be a shooting.
Terrell’s attorney maintained that his client — who he said drove the two juveniles to the area in the belief that tagging was going to be done — is “not guilty” and that the prosecution had not proven its case.
At the start of the trial, Blacknell had described Terrell as a “wealthy white kid” from Palos Verdes Estates who had a close friend who was like a brother to him and joined a gang after Terrell met him. He said his client was not a gang member and had no intention of assisting in the crime.
After hearing about two days of arguments from the attorneys, jurors spent just over 1 1/2 hours discussing the case without reaching a verdict. They are due back in court Monday to resume their deliberations.
Terrell and the two juvenile suspects were arrested Oct. 12. A $5 million bond was subsequently posted on Terrell’s behalf, prompting some parents at Palos Verdes High School to call for his suspension when he returned to classes.
His parents — identified by the Daily Breeze as media consulting firm president Donald Wayne Terrell and interior designer Debra Terrell — agreed to pull him out of classes.
The status of the case against the two juveniles arrested along with Terrell was not immediately available.
Surveillance video captured the alleged shooter and a second juvenile jumping into the back seat of a black Mercedes-Benz sedan after the shooting. The car, which was seen in other footage turning into the alley in question, was registered to Terrell’s father and was typically driven by Terrell, Los Angeles police Detective Stacey Szymkowiak testified at a hearing in April in which Terrell was ordered to stand trial.