Two men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms this morning in connection with the 2008 robbery and murder of a Louisiana man who was visiting San Francisco with friends.
William Jones, 28, and Lance Molina, 30, were sentenced today for the Sept. 9, 2008 death of 26-year-old Michael Bailey.
The two were convicted in June 2014 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, participation in a criminal street gang and three counts of robbery. In addition, Jones, who prosecutors said fired the fatal shot, was found guilty of assault with a firearm and other related firearm charges.
Jones was sentenced to 57 years to life, which included 35 years to life for the murder charge and 22 years for other charges. Molina was sentenced to 44 years and 4 months to life, including 25 years to life for the murder charge and 19 years and four months for other charges.
Bailey was a married father who was studying electrical engineering at Southern University in Baton Rouge and vacationing in San Francisco at the time of his death.
He was with his cousin from Oakland and a friend who accompanied him from Louisiana when he met a woman named Ariel Kittles, then 25, at the City Nights nightclub at 715 Harrison St. on Sept. 9, 2008. Bailey and his companions offered to give Kittles a ride home after she said she lost her car keys.
She led them in their rental car to Doublerock Street, a cul-de-sac in the Bayview District, then left when a gunman, later identified as Jones, approached the men and ordered them out of the car and onto the ground, prosecutors said.
A group then robbed the men and the gunman hit one of Bailey’s companions with the gun. When Bailey stood up to help, a quick conversation followed and he was shot in the head and killed, prosecutors said.
Prosecutor Eric Fleming today said Jones made a “clear decision” to shoot Bailey.
“It was clear he did not need to shoot Michael Bailey,” Fleming said. “Michael Bailey was on his knees.”
Deputy Public Defender Mark Iverson, who represented Jones, argued that his client had committed the crime when he was only 22 years old, and should be given at least a chance at parole.
“At least a 35 years to life sentence would acknowledge that there is a chance for change,” he said “It would give Mr. Jones some hope for the future.”
However, Judge Kay Tsenin said while she had considered a slightly lower sentence for Jones, she found his “attitude” during the hearing problematic.
She said that he had made faces and called her a derogatory term during the sentencing.
“Mr. Molina showed some remorse,” Tsenin noted.
The judge’s statement caused an angry outcry and tears among Jones’ family members and friends gathered for the sentencing and prompted at least one woman to leave the room.
Defense attorney Michael Gaines, who represented Molina, argued for a 25 years to life sentence for his client because he was not armed, even though under state law he remains liable for a murder occurring during the robbery he participated in.
“At no time did Mr. Molina have control of a gun or intend to shoot anyone,” Gaines said.
Fleming, however, argued that Molina could have chosen to back out once he saw Jones had a gun.
“Together they had a gun, together they committed the robbery,” he said. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
The jury hung on charges against a third defendant in the case, Maurice Lige, and acquitted Kittles, who had been accused of luring the victim and two others to the Bayview for the purposes of the robbery, according to prosecutors.
Iverson said the sentencing was delayed for two years after the conviction while defense attorneys pursued a motion for a new case and wrangled with prosecutors over a witness who perjured himself during the preliminary hearing. Ultimately, however, the motion for a new trial was denied.
At the time of Molina and Jones’s convictions, prosecutors said the case marked the first time a jury convicted members of the “Double Rock” gang of participating in a street gang.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News