A San Francisco judge today rejected a motion for a new trial for a reputed gang member who was convicted in July of murdering a man outside a North Beach nightclub while trying to rob him of a gaudy jeweled pendant.
Charles “Cheese” Heard, 26, of San Francisco, was accused in the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Richard Barrett outside the Fuse bar in the early morning of Nov. 25, 2008.
Police said two men tried to steal Barrett’s jewel-encrusted necklace depicting the Flintstones character “Bamm-Bamm,” and when Barrett resisted and ran, he was shot twice in the back.
Heard, a reputed member of a Western Addition gang with a proclivity for stealing expensive jewelry, according to prosecutors, was arrested for Barrett’s killing in July 2009.
Heard denied that he was there that night, according to his attorney.
A jury on July 1 found Heard guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery, but only after the trial judge re-instructed the jury with a theory that Heard could be convicted of murder for aiding and abetting the robbery, and not as the shooter.
In its decision, the jury found allegations that Heard had used a firearm to be not true.
In a motion for a new trial, Heard’s attorney said trial Judge Jerome Benson had been incorrect in re-instructing the jury and argued that prosecutors had never presented evidence that Heard aided and abetted the robbery.
But Benson today denied the motion and said, “The court finds that there is sufficient evidence for aiding and abetting.”
He said, “It is not evidence that is overwhelming, but the court believes that it is sufficient.”
Prosecutors presented evidence at Heard’s trial of an eyewitness who recognized the shooter by a gold tooth and said she was certain Heard was the man. But her description of the shooter’s clothing did not match that of two men seen on surveillance video leaving the scene of the shooting.
In an FBI wiretap, Heard bragged about making up to $25,000 for jewelry from jewelry thefts, prosecutors said. Other evidence was presented that showed calls from Heard’s cell phone along the route of a car fleeing from police in the area of the murder that night.
Heard, who is facing 25 years to life in prison, requested today that he be sentenced as soon as possible.
Ari Burack, Bay City News