OAKLAND — After an intense court hearing that spanned nearly a month, an Alameda Superior Court judge dismissed murder charges against one of three Bay Area men accused of causing a rolling gun battle on Interstate 880 that led to 1-year-old Jasper Wu being shot and killed by a stray bullet.
Judge Scott Patton ruled Wednesday that the evidence against Richmond resident Johnny Jackson was not enough to meet even the burden of proof presented in preliminary hearings, where prosecutors must merely establish probable cause in order for the case to proceed. It is a low bar that requires only a “strong inference” of guilt, far less than the reasonable doubt standard jurors are given at criminal trials.
While dismissing all but a single felony gun possession count against Jackson, the judge upheld murder and gang charges against Trevor Green, 22, of Richmond; and Ivory Bivins, 24, of Vallejo, ruling that there was enough evidence tying both men to the Nov. 6, 2021 freeway shooting. Jasper, just weeks away from his second birthday, was riding southbound in his family’s car, and happened to cross paths with two northbound vehicles engaged in a gunfight at the exact moment someone fired a shot, police say.
Jackson’s attorney, reached for comment Thursday, said Patton made the “correct decision” and that her client “did nothing to cause the tragic death of this child.”
“He was a victim of an unprovoked ambush on the freeway,” defense lawyer Annie Beles said.
Bivins’ attorney, Ernie Castillo, said he wasn’t surprised Jackson was largely discharged from the case. He said that the defense will present witnesses to dispute whether Bivins’ car was involved in the shooting, as prosecutors contend.
“The fight for Ivory really has just begun,” Castillo said.
The prosecution theory amounts to this: Jackson and another Bay Area man, Keison “Keke” Lee, were members of one San Francisco gang called Eddy Rock, while Green and Bivins are part of a rival gang known as Chopper City. Police have evidence that Lee and Jackson noticed a suspicious Infiniti following their Nissan through the streets of Oakland onto the freeway, and that a gunfight between the two cars started on Interstate 880, at the very moment Jasper happened to be riding in his family’s car.
Authorities contend that the Infiniti contained Green and Bivins, who face unrelated attempted murder charges in a shooting at Sunvalley Mall in Concord. A warrant served on Green’s home turned up ammunition similar to that used in the shooting.
Lee, who was wounded in the shooting, never faced charges; by the time police identified him as a possible suspect, he’d been killed in a drive-by shooting on the 800 block of 81st Avenue in Oakland.