OAKLAND, Calif. --A key witness in the trial of a man who was given the death penalty for the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old girl in Oakland and a 22-year-old man in Berkeley in separate shootings in 2013 was sentenced Friday to two years' probation for her role in the Berkeley killing.
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Laquana Nuno, a 31-year-old veteran prostitute, was originally charged with murder for helping 25-year-old Darnell Williams try to flee after Williams fatally shot Anthony Medearis in the 1400 block of Eighth Street in Berkeley in an unrelated incident about 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2013.
Nuno could have faced life in prison if she'd been convicted of murder but on Dec. 12, 2013, prosecutors allowed her to allow her to plead no contest to the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact in return for her testimony against Williams.
Williams faced trial on charges that he murdered Medearis, as well as 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue in Oakland on the night of July 17, 2013.
Nuno testified in Williams' trial in April that she met Williams after reputed gang member Jermaine Davis, 26, who was her boyfriend, was fatally shot in the 1800 block of Derby Street in Berkeley earlier on that July 17.
Prosecutor John Brouhard told jurors that Williams had been a close friend of Davis and carried out the shooting that claimed Alaysha's life in retaliation for Davis' death.
Brouhard said Williams believed Davis had been killed by Antiown York and he fired shots into the apartment on Wilson Street because York's ex-girlfriend, the mother of York's children, lived there.
York was charged with the murder of Davis but prosecutors dismissed the charges against him in September 2014 because a key witness wasn't available.
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Brouhard said Williams fatally shot Medearis in an unrelated incident because he thought that Medearis was a snitch and also wanted to rob Medearis because he was out of money.
Nuno testified that Williams told her that he wanted "revenge" for Davis' death and admitted that he carried out the shooting that claimed Alaysha's life.
Nuno said she began working as a prostitute at the age of 13 because she didn't have any other way of earning money after she left home and said that after Davis was killed, a mutual friend introduced her to Williams so he could be her "protector."
Nuno said Williams told her he wanted to kill Medearis "because he was a snitch and didn't like him."
Nuno said she told Williams that it was "stupid" to try to kill Medearis but Williams persisted with his plan and called her to ask for a ride after he carried out the crime because he didn't have a car and wanted to flee the area.
Nuno said she picked up Williams near the shooting scene but after a short period he jumped out of her car in an attempt to flee from police, although officers arrested him nearby a short time later.
She said she drove for another block and a half but then got out of her car and ran away. She was arrested several weeks later and was held in custody for 108 days before she reached her plea deal.
Nuno testified that she's "haunted" by Medearis' death and received threats for testifying against Williams, who has a prior conviction for assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
Williams' lead attorney Deborah Levy told jurors that Nuno and Williams' former girlfriend Britney Rogers, who also testified against Williams, weren't credible because they're prostitutes.
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Williams was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and assault with a semi-automatic firearm, as well as three special circumstance allegations: committing multiple murders, lying in wait in the shooting that claimed Alaysha's life, and killing Medearis during the course of an attempted robbery.
He was sentenced to the death penalty in September.