18-year-old Cameron Terrell was acquitted on murder charges and two counts of attempted murder on Monday. The charges stem from a suspected gang killing in South Los Angeles in October 2017.
Prosecutors argued that Terrell, a white teen who attended Palos Verdes High School, joined a predominantly black Los Angeles gang. On October 1, 2017, Terrell drove two gang members to rival gang territory, where they confronted non-gang affiliated 21-year-old Justin Holmes and fatally shot him near South Western Avenue and West 78th Street.
Evidence included a rap video that showed Terrell in the background, wearing the colors of the gang and throwing up gang signs. A t-shirt that read "Milk," Terrell's presumed gang moniker, was found in the back of his car. The prosecution also presented photographs, videos, Facebook messages, and text messages that showed Terrell posing with other gang members. Terrell has a tattoo of a "W" on his chest that the prosecution argued represents the specific gang he belongs to.
Terrell's attorney, Jovan Blacknell, argued that Terrell was not a gang member but a close friend of his had joined a gang. Blacknell explained Terrell was merely interested in gang life and had gone on an "L.A. gang binge," reading books about gang life and spending time with gang members. According to Blacknell, Terrell was known for giving away clothes and lending his car in South Los Angeles. His "W" tattoo stood for the Washington Nationals baseball team - inspired by a similar tattoo on basketball player Kevin Durant.
The jury deliberated for a week before reaching a verdict, finding Terrell not guilty on all charges. The other two teens involved in the shooting still have a criminal case pending. Terrell will return home to Palos Verdes, where he had been living while out on $5 million bail before his trial. He completed his high school education at home after other parents voiced concern about his presence on campus at Palos Verdes High School, and he will attend the University of Houston in Texas this fall.
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