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Black man was killed because of his race by gang members seeking bragging rights, prosecutors contend

James Shamp The killing of a Canoga Park bowling alley employee was a racially motivated crime tied to gang activity, L.A. prosecutors say.

A co-defendant charged with the 2008 murder of James Shamp was seeking bragging rights and earned his gang moniker “Outlaw” when he willfully participated in the racially motivated crime, a prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments Wednesday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Daniel Akemon of the Hardcore Gang Division told jurors at the Van Nuys Courthouse that Martin Sotelo helped fellow gang member Richard Bordelon gun down Shamp, a black man, “in cold blood because of the color of his skin, in a display of senseless violence and a complete disregard for human life.”

Shamp, 48, a husband and father of two children, was taking out the trash at the Canoga Bowl on Dec. 22, 2008, when a car carrying Latino gang members pulled up, prosecutors said.

Sotelo, 26, was behind the wheel. He stopped the vehicle so Bordelon could take aim like a sniper, striking Shamp “right through the heart,” Akemon said.

The jurors -- six men and six women -- will be asked to decide whether Sotelo willfully conspired to commit murder and targeted Shamp because he was African American.

In addition, Sotelo is charged with one count of attempted robbery and one count of evading police, with a special gang allegation. He is accused of being a member of the Canoga Park Alabama gang.

In March 2010, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Martin Herscovitz sentenced Bordelon to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 47 years to life, after he admitted killing Shamp. He was also ordered to pay $14,386 in restitution for burial expenses and mental health costs incurred by the victim’s family.

On Wednesday, Akemon told jurors that Sotelo and Bordelon were out that December evening looking to earn their respective nicknames of “Outlaw" and "Psycho.” And although they may not have gone to the Canoga Bowl in the 20100 block of Vanowen Street looking for an African American, “they spotted a prize target and that’s when they decided to kill,” Akemon said.

But defense attorney Robert Schwartz argued that his client, who has African American friends and had even dated a black woman, did not harbor prejudice against blacks and was not on the hunt to kill them.

As far as Sotelo understood, he and his companions “were out to pick up some girls," Schwartz told jurors. “But something switched in the mind of Bordelon.”

Bordelon decided he was going to rob somebody to get some spending money, Schwartz said. When the attempted robbery of a young female failed, Bordelon directed Sotelo to the Canoga Bowl, according to Schwartz.

The plan was not to find an African American, but to get some money, Schwartz argued. “How many African Americans would you expect to find at a bowling alley in the San Fernando Valley?” he asked rhetorically.

But Bordelon was not only carrying a gun, he was “carrying a hatred of African Americans,” Schwartz said. And “what transpired is not a premeditated killing but a crime of opportunism. All of a sudden the killing of an African American trumps a robbery.”

Closing arguments are expected to wrap up Thursday.


Homicide Report: James Shamp, 48

West Valley bowlers mourn slaying of a kind friend

Conviction and sentencing in racially motivated killing of James Shamp, 48

-- Ann M. Simmons in Van Nuys

Photo: James Shamp Credit: Shamp family

Comments () | Archives (27)

This gem of a city -- Los Angeles -- would be so much better if we could get rid of all the gang members. Get the US Army of of Iraq, and into LA, and do some serious urban counter-terrorism.

What a waste of taxpayer $$. Sub- human should not be entitled to human trial.

If the law changes and execute these low-life criminals faster then I don't think kids want to be in gang. Arrest = Court = Find Guilty = Sentence to death within a year. You see how many want to commit crimes.

But sadly there are so many morons who think these trash criminals can be re-educated and then they also will be provided a cell phone while in the prison.

@ Jack
Right, because Iraq is a much safer place now, isn't it? Its only logical that we bring them home so they can create the same kind of conditions here. Excellent.

Iraq is hopeless and should be written off, but my LA is worth trying to save.

An interesting use of the 'I have a black friend' defense....

Nice headline. Last time I read an article about gang violence, it was referred to as a massacre - who was it? Black men who killed two young Latinos and a 10 year old child. But that wasn't racially motivated right? It was gang related only?

Point? Don't use selective criminal activity to make out one group racist and the other not racist.

Both gangs involved in these incidents involved a bunch of moronic idiots who probably cant define their own race.

LAtinos racist? Can't be.

Murder was committed, black, white, red, etc.
Swift justice is the answer.
No more climbing the corporate ladder of gangland.
Death for death means death!

@Charlie S

Iraq is safer than Mexico.

These gang members are your kids LOS ANGELES! You want to stop these stupid gangs??? PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS! Don't ever think, "Oh, it can't be MY child...MY child is an angel!" Get over it...your kids will never tell you the truth as YOU were probably a wild child their age too! Although YOU never did anything like this....doesn't mean YOUR kids don't have the mind or guts to do it...

These gangs are coming from somewhere...

The defense argument is so stupid. Not even a 10 year old would find that argument credible.

How come we don't treat gang members as terrorists? That is what they are.

this is happens all over the city and county of los angeles, the powers that be just wont admit it, they dont want the us to panick. i live in the florence-firestone area and there has been a race war going on for at least 10 to 15 years. i had 5 friends killed in the last five years, killed just because they were black and 4 just because they were hispanic. one friend was killed in front of the area fire department. it use to be gang member on gang member now the have taken it to another level and target any non gangbanger, man, women, child, of color black or brown. when will america have the balls to say they dont have rights and take every documented gang member off the streets for good. we all would live in a safer place.......I have lived in this area since 1965 and that gives you an idea how old i am, and for my friends to be killed that tells you it's about race and just not some gang on gang thing.

A majority of gang members have no brain cells.

You know, times are hard, seems an up and coming gang banger can't find a decent victim to rob these days so he's force to resort to this. So sad.

But I'll bet I know a solution. The economy is really bad for lawful citizens. How about putting a bounty on the head of every member of a known violent gang. Say, $100-200 a head! The government does this for nusense animals, why not! Thins the herds (really fast) and put food on peoples tables. Win-win for everyone!

This murder of a father of 2 children did not deserve a death like this, I will never understand how anybody with a brain would kill anyone of any race for a a name and to belong. This does not make you tough, what it makes you is a coward. So easy to brainwash.

As a latino myself, I hope these individuals pay for what they have done. Now, hopefully there is no retaliation.

RIP- Mr. Shamp.

How many whites have committed murder/violence against minorities.

Funny how you white people bring race up but when your kind commits violence against minorities your silent, of course. Its the white mans undoing.

Some of you who say death to this guy your beginning to sound like those terrorist in the middle east death death death, you are no better then the gangs, for wishing death on them, no better!!!!

This story made me sad, not only for the victim, but also because I have happy childhood memories of playing in a bowling league at Canoga Park Bowl, walking there from my middle school down the street with friends, feeling safe and carefree. This was in the mid-80s. Back then we knew kids who were wanna-be CPA (Canoga Park Alabama) gangbangers but they seemed mostly harmless, posturing boys. Now the westside of SFV is over-run by some truly despicable, violent, psychopathic boys and young men with cars and guns for toys. And now we have to pay for housing for these criminals for the next 50 years, unless they get shanked in prison. I'd rather spend my tax money on anti-gang prevention/after school programs. I do remember these were lacking in SFV when I was a kid, resulting in lots of really bored, latchkey kids easily lured by the a-holes of the human species.

My advice for all of you racists out there. Get a D.N.A test. You may find yourselves suprised.

@Michael, how did Mexico happen to get brought into this thread ?? And Iraq is NOT safer than Mexico. I work for a major pharmaceutical co. and I travel to many countries, Iraq is a country we do not visit because of safety concerns. Mexico is one of my favorite places to visit, I am not Hispanic but I feel alot safer in Mexico than in most parts of Europe or even Asia.

Any gang that gives out cool nicknames to members BECAUSE they commit a crime . . .

should be convicted of the same crime

Bring back the Draft,like the 60's,criminals were given the choice of going to prison,or going to the military. This policy was ended in the 80's.
As a result there was a lower recitivism rate.
There was also a higher graduation rate,as young men were given the choice of staying in school or go to war/

Well, they got their gang names, and lost their freedom forever at the same time. How much sense does that make. For the rest of their lives they will spend it taking orders from the mafia, may get their ish pushed in, dealing with life threatening issues 24/7 , their homies will not write, and will not visit, family will eventually move on with their lives.

Watch and listen kids contemplating gang life. well for those of you that have a choice, many grow up in a home where their parents are active gang members.

You do not want this for yourself, stay in school and prove those that doubt you, that consider you a statistic that you value your life. and will make something positive out of it.

@Alex....I read the same article about the "massacre" you are speaking of....THEY CALLED IT A POSSIBLE HATE CRIME....go back and read it again and stop feeling sorry for your race...whatever it may be!!!

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