One of the three men accused in the 2021 fatal shooting of 23-month-old Jasper Wu in Oakland, California, will no longer face murder charges, an Alameda County judge ruled this week.
Johnny Jackson Jr., 28, will instead have to prove his innocence in only one felony charge — possession of a firearm.
The shooting, born out of a rolling battle between two rival gangs, occurred on Interstate 880 on the afternoon of Nov. 6, 2021. Jasper was returning home to Fremont with his mother, aunt and two cousins when a bullet pierced their car and struck him in the forehead. The toddler was just weeks away from his second birthday.
Jackson was among four men involved in the incident. He was arrested in December 2022 alongside Trevor Green, 22, and Ivory Bivins, 24, whose murder and gang charges were upheld Wednesday.
Keison Lee, the fourth suspect, died in a separate shooting before authorities could apprehend him.
Judge Scott Patton said the evidence against Jackson did not meet the burden of proof presented in the preliminary hearings.
His attorney described the ruling as the “correct decision.”
“He was a victim of an unprovoked ambush on the freeway,” defense lawyer Annie Beles told The Mercury News.
The four men were members of San Francisco-based rival gangs Chopper City and Eddy Rock. During the shootout, Green and Bivins were together in a dark Infiniti G35, while Jackson and Lee were in a dark gray Nissan Altima.
Amid the chaos, a bullet fired from the Infiniti missed the Altima, striking the Wu family’s white Lexus sedan.
In a statement, Norbert Chu, his parents’ attorney, said they are pleased that Green and Bivins will continue to stand trial, as per ABC7 News.
While the family would have preferred that all three of the initially charged defendants be ordered to stand trial, they are most focused on the two defendants directly responsible for their son’s death and are pleased that as to those two defendants all the charges and enhancements, which include the special circumstances that would make them eligible for a sentence of LWOP (life without parole), have been ordered to stand trial on all those charges and enhancements.
The trio of suspects remained held as of Thursday without bail, KRON 4 reported. They will be back in court on June 8.
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