LOS ANGELES –
A Los Angeles man was convicted by a jury today of the first-degree
murder of actor Merlin Santana, fatally shot more than a year ago
after visiting a home in the Crenshaw District of the city, the
District Attorney’s office announced.
deliberated about a day before convicting Damien Andre Gates, 21, of
one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
The jury found the attempt murder was willful, deliberate and
premeditated. It also found true allegations that Gates used a
rifle to commit the crimes.
It was the
second conviction in the case in less than a month. On Jan. 26,
co-defendant Brandon Douglas Bynes, 25, pleaded guilty to voluntary
manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. Jury selection for a
third defendant in the case, a 16-year-old girl, is scheduled to
start on Monday, but it is believed her trial will not get under way
until later this month.
testified in his own defense, is scheduled to be sentenced by
Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler on Feb. 25. He faces a
possible maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison, plus life,
plus 10 years, said Deputy District Attorney Greg Dohi, the
prosecutor. Bynes already has been sentenced to a 23-year state
Santana, 26, of
North Hollywood, was shot in the head and killed as he and a friend
were in a car leaving another man’s home in the Crenshaw District of
Los Angeles on Nov. 9, 2002. The friend survived the attack.
Santana was a co-star of television’s “Steve Harvey Show.”
defendant is Monique King, who also is charged with one count each
of murder and attempted murder. A judge court last year found her
unfit to be tried as a juvenile.
defendants have been in custody since their arrests shortly after