The accused killer already has two felony convictions and has done prison time for gun possession. Thursday, one of his cousins told ABC7 Lawrence Denard smoked marijuana on the day of the drive-by shooting.
At the growing memorial on International Boulevard where 3-year-old Carlos Nava was shot, there is a measure of relief at the murder charge against the suspected shooter.
"That does bring some sense of relief, but the community is still deeply in sorrow; we're still at a loss," Oakland resident James Smith said.
Denard, 26, was arrested during a police raid in Pittsburg Tuesday night. The first tips came in shortly after the Monday afternoon drive-by shooting, which injured two men whom police say were the intended targets. Police say one of the victims provided the name of the getaway driver. That led to other witnesses who identified Denard.
"I don't think he did it, because if he did it, he'd have another look on his face and the look he had on his face is an innocent look," Denard's cousin Shannika James said.
James was in court Thursday. She says she saw Denard on Monday before the shooting.
"Yeah, I seen him Monday morning; he came to my house, woke me and my son up," she said. "That was about 12:30, almost one o'clock and we smoked some weed and me and him was talking."
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced charges of murder and attempted murder against Denard.
"The defendant, with callous disregard for the safety of everyone, wantonly shot and killed the little toddler in front of his family as they walked home on a bustling Oakland street," she said.
Oakland police say the drive-by was gang related. More officers were put on the street after Monday's killing. Chief Anthony Batts says crime dropped because of that, which he suggested was a wake-up call to hire more police.
"Maybe the loss of young Carlos will wake people up," Batts said.
Police say Denard gave a taped statement and denied any involvement in the murder.
In court Thursday, the judged denied bail. She told Denard he needed a public defender and ordered him back into court Friday afternoon.
Police are still looking for another suspect.
People who want to make contributions should send them to the Carlitos Nava Fund at Wells Fargo's San Leandro Marina branch. The account number is 3981855954.