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D.A. says skin color, backpack led to Jamiel Shaw's slaying

The 17-year-old football star’s skin was black and his backpack red.

Were it not for those colors, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday, Jamiel Shaw II might never have been murdered by an 18th Street gang member eager to earn his stripes. Deputy Dist. Atty. Allyson Ostrowski said that Pedro Espinoza, now 23, shot Shaw in 2008 in an execution manner thinking he was a member of the Bloods. 

Shaw, a running back and defensive back for Los Angeles High School, was killed in March of that year just a few houses away from his Arlington Heights home. His father heard the gunshots and ran out to find his son bleeding onto the pavement. Shaw was on his cellphone talking to his girlfriend, who heard a voice ask “Where are you from” before the phone went dead. 

In closing arguments Tuesday capping a weeklong trial, Ostrowski alleged that the voice belonged to Espinoza, who just 28 hours earlier had been released from custody after serving time for an earlier gang-related incident in which he threatened a man with a gun. Espinoza belonged to a clique that constituted the “most violent of the most violent” among 18th Street gang members, she said. 

In addition to numerous 18th Street tattoos, Espinoza had “BK” inked on the side of his neck -– standing for “Blood Killer,” the prosecutor told jurors. 

When Espinoza saw the red on Shaw’s Spider-Man backpack, Ostrowski said, he took him to be a member of the Rollin 20’s Bloods. And before Shaw could respond to his question, he shot Shaw in the stomach, then walked around his body and fired a second into his head, Ostrowski told jurors. 

“That second shot to Jamiel’s head, that’s an execution, that’s a demonstration of this defendant’s intent to kill,” she said. 

Attorneys for Espinoza are scheduled to give their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.



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— Victoria Kim

Photo: Jamiel Shaw II in family photo.


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