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March 22, 2010
Press Release (download as a pdf)
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced today that a jury convicted defendants Stefon Johnson and Hezekiah Edwards each of two counts of first degree murder with special circumstances and one count of attempted murder on Friday, March 19, 2010. The convictions stem from a brutal crime spree that began on March 24, 2006 in Antioch when Edwards and Johnson attempted to kidnap victims Johnny Denton and Willie Lavall Jr. at gun-point. When they tried to escape, both victims were shot and Lavall was dragged to death as the defendants sped away from the scene in a rented minivan.
Later the same day, a pizza delivery man in Antioch was listening to a police scanner and heard the description of the minivan that fled the shooting scene. He spotted a similar looking van in the area and noted the license plate, which he provided to the police. The Antioch Police later tracked the van to a car rental agency at the Oakland airport. They located the van and discovered blood underneath it. The van had been rented by Aberial Bradley, a family friend of defendant Edwards.
An employee of the rental car agency tipped off the defendants about the police locating the van. The defendants decided to kill Bradley to prevent her from talking to authorities. With the help of Edward’s girlfriend, the defendants set up a trap and lured Bradley to a residence in Oakland. There, an unidentified gunman shot Bradley six times as she was seated in her car, killing her.
“We are extremely pleased with the jury’s verdicts. The defendants in this case were particularly vicious. Both the Antioch and Oakland Police Departments did an outstanding job investigating these brutal murders and gathering the evidence that allowed us to present a very compelling case at trial,” states Deputy District Attorney John Brouhard, the prosecutor of the case.
“We commend the coordinated effort of the police agencies that worked together to ensure that justice prevailed and allowed these dangerous killers to be removed from our streets. We hope that these verdicts will bring some solace to the surviving family members of the murdered victims,” says District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley.
Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2010. They face a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
DDA John Brouhard
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office