San Francisco jurors today convicted a 21-year-old man of first-degree murder for his role in a 2008 robbery outside a Mission District pot club that led to a fatal shooting.
Ijeoma Ogbuagu, of San Francisco, was accused under the state’s felony murder rule for the armed robbery of 23-year-old Royshawn Holden and another man outside the Mr. Nice Guy marijuana dispensary on the night of Sept. 14.
Holden and a friend had gone to the club to buy marijuana that night, and as they got into their car to leave, police said two men robbed them at gunpoint, taking the pot, cell phones and $2 in cash.
Holden was then fatally shot, allegedly by the second man, who is not in custody.
Holden’s friend was able to escape on foot, and later returned to speak with police.
The friend, a man prosecutors have requested not be identified out of concern for his safety, testified during Ogbuagu’s trial that he had “not a doubt at all” that Ogbuagu was one of the men who robbed him.
After about two and a half days of deliberation, the jury found Ogbuagu guilty of first-degree murder with an allegation of firearm use, and guilty of two counts of second-degree robbery. He bowed his head as the verdict was read this afternoon.
Ogbuagu faces 26 years to life in prison at his sentencing Aug. 11.
Police arrested Ogbuagu in Burlingame on Sept. 23, after the friend picked his photo out of a San Francisco middle school yearbook shown to him by a member of Holden’s family.
The friend also said he was certain Julius Hughes, 25, of Brentwood, was the shooter, having identified him from a photo on MySpace.
Hughes was arrested Dec. 5, but he was released from custody in late February after a criminal grand jury failed to indict him for murder because the friend’s identification was not strong enough.
According to the felony murder rule, prosecutors can charge participants in certain violent felonies–such as robbery, kidnapping and rape–that result in a murder as if they had committed the murder themselves.
Ogbuagu’s attorney, Franz Fuetsch, questioned the friend’s identification of his client during the trial, alluding to poor lighting conditions that night, but prosecutor Michael Swart said evidence showed he had been nearly face to face with Ogbuagu when Ogbuagu leaned into the car to rifle through the glove box.