A 66-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting another man during a dispute over tree trimmings in front of his house in East Oakland in 2016.
Vick Malone claimed during his trial that he acted in self-defense when he shot Ernest Henry McMurry Jr., 50, of Union City, outside Malone’s home in the 2300 block of 80th Avenue at about 1:50 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2016.
But jurors didn’t believe him and convicted him of first-degree murder for killing McMurry and of attempted murder for shooting at McMurry’s uncle, Teddy Walker, who wasn’t injured.
Malone admitted on the witness stand that he fired a single shot that killed McMurry but said he acted in self-defense after McMurry pointed a gun at him.
Malone said the shooting was the culmination of a violent fight that broke out after he put tree trimmings on top of McMurry’s car, which was parked in the driveway of Malone’s neighbor, a woman who was McMurry’s girlfriend.
Malone said McMurry got mad at him when he saw the trimmings on his car and an argument ensued in which McMurry and his uncle, Walker, pinned him on the ground and punched him and stomped on him.
Malone also said McMurry held a knife to his throat at one point and threatened to kill him.
Malone said McMurry and his uncle eventually let him get up and he was able to retreat to his house, but he said he didn’t call the police because he didn’t think he had time to do so.
Malone said he got a rifle from his bedroom to protect himself because he heard Walker telling McMurry to take a gun Walker was carrying so that Malone wouldn’t be able to retaliate against him.
Malone said he was carrying his rifle when he went outside his front door and he fired it at McMurry after he saw McMurry pointing a revolver at him.
“I shot him before he fired at me.”
McMurry was pronounced dead at the scene.
The gun that Malone said McMurry was holding wasn’t found at the scene.
Prosecutors said Malone shot McMurry in the back of the head as McMurry was walking away.
Prosecutors said Malone then re-racked his shotgun and pointed it at Walker but witnesses told police that Malone’s gun jammed when he tried to shoot Walker.
Malone denied an allegation by prosecutor Emily Tienken when she cross-examined him that he had a long-running feud with McMurry because he didn’t like McMurry parking in the area where he regularly trimmed his tree.