Man Sentenced 128 Years To Life For 2010 Halloween Shooting Death

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man was sentenced today to 128 years to life behind bars 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.

Leonard Hall Jr., 26, "is in the court's view a clear danger to society," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry said of the defendant, who also was convicted of two counts of attempted murder for wounding Aaron Shannon Jr.'s grandfather and uncle.

The boy's father, Aaron Shannon Sr., said he was happy that justice was finally served.

"Our family has been through a lot. It's very hard going on day by day," he said.

Hall was convicted in late May in his third trial -- the previous two juries deadlocked. The third panel found that Hall personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that the shooting was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang, but rejected an allegation that the crime was committed "willfully, deliberately and with premeditation."

Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim argued that 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 another gang member, Marcus Denson, went into rival territory in the midst of a gang war and passed behind the family's backyard, Kim told 
jurors. 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, she said.

Four witnesses -- an accomplice and the boy's grandfather, uncle and a family friend -- identified Hall as the gunman and corroborated details of the 
shooting, Kim said. The child's father said he could not pick out the shooter from the photos he was shown by police.

Denson told police when he was arrested that Hall was with him in the alley behind the boy's house and was the gunman. Denson pleaded guilty to one  count of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder and is facing nearly 26 years in state prison when sentenced on Aug. 6. Defense attorney Carol Ojo said the prosecution's case relied on eyewitness testimony, telling jurors that 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." 

She said she believed jurors may have been "pressured" into reaching the verdict, and that she was "fairly confident the case is going to be overturned on appeal."

Ojo told jurors that "the police were under pressure" to solve the high-profile case and pushed members of the victim's family to identify her client as the shooter. 
 
Hall's lawyer called Denson "a liar, a thief and a manipulator" who originally told a friend that he was in the neighborhood with two other men before the shooting.
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