An ex-felon has been convicted of first-degree murder with two special circumstances for the fatal shooting of another man during a robbery at a brothel in East Oakland three years ago.
Jurors deliberated for only about four hours before announcing their verdict Thursday afternoon against 47-year-old Curtis Yee for the death of 31-year-old Jian Jin of San Jose at an apartment in the 2000 block of 16th Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2013.
In addition to murder, jurors convicted Yee of the special circumstances of committing a murder during a robbery and committing a murder during a burglary.
The special circumstance findings mean that Yee will face life in prison without the possibility of parole when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes sentences him on Jan. 20.
The lawyers in the case were back in court today to affirm Yee’s six prior felony convictions: assault with a firearm, extortion, second-degree robbery, forgery, assault with a deadly weapon and second-degree commercial robbery.
Prosecutor Chris Chin told jurors that Yee planned the robbery and was the one who shot and killed Jin.
He said, “All the witnesses in this case put the gun in his hands.”
But Yee’s lawyer, Deborah Levy, alleged that the prosecution’s key witness, Vuong Dinh Phan, 38, can’t be trusted because he took a plea deal to testify against Yee.
“Mr. Phan has a personal interest in this case because he wants to put the blame on someone else,” said Levy, who suggested that Phan was more involved in Jin’s death than prosecutors have alleged.
Three months after Jin was killed, Yee, Phan and a third man, 34-year-old Lae Lay Lokeaphone, were all arrested and charged with murder but Yee was the only suspect who was actually accused of fatally shooting Jin.
They all faced life in prison without parole if they were convicted. Phan has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and will receive a 12-year state prison term if Rhynes determines that his testimony was truthful.
Lokeaphone, who was the alleged getaway driver, will be prosecuted separately at a later date.
Prosecutors allege that Lokeaphone has four prior convictions: two for receiving stolen property and one each for being an accessory to a felony after the fact and for first-degree residential burglary.