Man sentenced to 50 years for murder

February 27, 2009 1:27:28 PM PST
An Oakland man was sentenced today to 50 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting another man he claimed had touched him in a sexually suggestive manner.

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Bruce Shaw, 25, was convicted on Dec. 9 of first-degree murder for the April 6, 2006, shooting death of 27-year-old Sirron Croskey in the 100 block of Catron Drive near Sobrante Park.

Jurors, who deliberated for two days, also convicted Shaw of using a gun to kill Croskey.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright sentenced Shaw to 25 years to life for his murder conviction plus another 25 years for using a gun to kill Croskey.

Before Cartwright sentenced Shaw, she denied a motion for a new trial that was filed by his attorney, Andrea Auer, who argued that the judge made a legal error when she instructed the jury.

Auer then asked that Shaw's first-degree murder conviction be reduced to second-degree murder, but Cartwright denied that motion as well.

Auer told jurors in her closing argument in December that she believes Shaw shot Croskey in a homosexual panic, stating that Shaw "flipped out" after Croskey touched Shaw in what he thought was a sexually suggestive way.

Auer said Shaw had been sexually molested when he was 3 years old and didn't like it when Croskey, a paralegal who also was a member of a rap group, repeatedly touched him at the end of a long night in which the two men and some acquaintances had been drinking, taking drugs and planning robberies.

Auer said Shaw's history caused him to react violently, saying, "We wouldn't be here if Bruce hadn't been badly sexually abused as a kid."

The defense attorney said that because Shaw was provoked, she believed he should only be convicted of manslaughter, not murder.

However, prosecutor Joni Leventis told jurors she believed Shaw should be convicted of first-degree murder because he planned to kill Croskey and had time to reflect before he pulled the trigger, as there was a gap of 30 to 45 minutes between the time that Croskey touched Shaw and the time that Shaw shot Croskey.

Leventis said today there's no firm evidence that Shaw was molested when he was a child, as the defense didn't introduce any evidence to back up that assertion. She said the defense only put on testimony by a psychologist who said he thinks that Shaw was molested.

The prosecutor admitted that Shaw was unhappy that Croskey had touched him, but she thinks Shaw may have had other motives for shooting Croskey, such as the fact that Croskey was driving a nice van and the possibility that he may have been carrying a lot of cash.

Leventis said Shaw and Croskey didn't know each other before the night of the shooting. She said they met through a mutual acquaintance with whom they wound up hanging out with that night.

Croskey's mother and father both spoke at the sentencing hearing today.

Leventis said Croskey's fiancee was too emotional to read her statement, so she read it on the fiancee's behalf.

The prosecutor said Croskey's 9-year-old son was also too upset to read his statement, so Croskey's father read it in court.

Croskey also is survived by a 6-year-old daughter, according to Leventis.

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