Friends of murdered Oakland baker call for alternatives to prison for alleged teen killer

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, June 24, 2023
19-year-old charged in death of Oakland baker, police say
19-year-old Ishmael Burch charged in death of Owner of Angel Cakes bakery, Jennifer Angel, who died after robbery attempt in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A 19-year-old has been charged with the death of an Oakland baker who was dragged by a car during a robbery attempt in February, according to police.

Authorities say Ishmael Burch was driving the get-away car when another person grabbed Jen Angel's purse in downtown Oakland.

Angel was dragged 50 feet and died two days later.

RELATED: Oakland bakery owner dies from injuries after being dragged by suspect's car during robbery: Family

Owner of popular Angel Cakes bakery has died after being in a medically-induced coma after being dragged 50 feet during Oakland robbery.

Police say Burch was involved in a second robbery that same day.

We spoke with Angel's friend.

"She loved supporting her friends and her community in difficult moments. I would often turn to her when I had questions or needed advice," said Moira Birss.

She's one of several people calling on local authorities to pursue an alternative to traditional prosecution.

"I know Jen believed that we need to address harm and create accountability that is really rooted in looking at the root causes of why harm happens," Birss said.

Birss says Angel strongly disagreed with the current criminal justice system, and would not want her alleged killer to go to prison.

"Locking somebody in a cage, is that really going to bring Jen back?" she said.

Instead, Birss says Angel would have liked a form of restorative justice to happen.

RELATED: Family of Oakland baker seeks 'restorative justice' for her death following robbery

Friends of Angel's have been working alongside the nonprofit Restore Oakland.

"Restorative justice is really about healing, and healing begins with telling the truth. And our current criminal justice system robs any opportunity of truth telling from all parties," said Tash Nguyen.

While next steps in the case will be decided by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, Birss says she hopes Angel's story can make a difference.

"There were almost 600 people that showed up at her memorial from all over the country. And so I think a part of that is just the impact that Jen had had," Birss said.

Angel's friends released a group statement that read in part:

"Steps absolutely need to be taken to ensure that those who caused this horrendous violence against Jen do not harm other people, and that these circumstances are not allowed to be replicated in our society... However, Jen believed that the current legal system is not effective in ensuring either of these things... We recognize that, under the existing systems and laws, it is likely that conventional prosecution will be pursued in this case, despite what Jen would have wanted."

Follow this link to read the full statement.

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