Trial opens for 3 charged in daylight murder

Brandon Houston (top right) was shot dead in front of several witnesses around 1 p.m., Nov. 29, 2012, in the 43000 Block of Gadsden Avenue. The trial has begun for the three men charged with Houston's murder.

Brandon Houston (top right) was shot dead in front of several witnesses around 1 p.m., Nov. 29, 2012, in the 43000 Block of Gadsden Avenue. The trial has begun for the three men charged with Houston’s murder.

LANCASTER – On Nov. 29, 2012, 21-year-old Brandy “Brandon” Houston was shot 12 times during an afternoon street brawl near Coaches Sports Bar in Lancaster.

The trial is underway in an Antelope Valley courtroom for 22-year-old Terrell Henderson, 21-year-old Joshua Lockett, and 36-year-old Randy Sullivan – the three men charged with murder and gang enhancements in connection with Houston’s death.

(L to R) Henderson, Lockett and Sullivan were arrested hours after Houston's murder. (LUIS MEZA)

(L to R) Henderson, Lockett and Sullivan were arrested hours after Houston’s murder. (LUIS MEZA)

The jury heard opening statements Wednesday from the prosecution and the defense, which painted two very different pictures of the daylight murder.

Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami opened by showing jurors a picture of Houston and his infant son.  Family members would testify that Houston and the child’s mother were having a verbal argument on the morning of the murder, when the woman called her twin sister to pick her up from Houston’s apartment, Hatami said.

The twin sister sent her boyfriend, Terrell Henderson, who showed up in a black SUV with Joshua Lockett and Randy Sullivan, Hatami said. Witnesses would testify that an argument broke out between Houston and the trio because they were from rival gangs, and the trio promised to return, Hatami said.

Security camera footage would show the three defendants returning with two more men, including the shooter, and parking the black SUV about a quarter of a mile from where Houston and his friends were gathered, Hatami said.

“The five of them snuck through the apartment complex… to where the killing happened,” Hatami said.

Video from a witness’s cell phone captured the ensuing street brawl, and the video would be played during the trial, Hatami said.

“The evidence will show that the shooter hid on the side and didn’t get in the fight… This big fight was a diversion,” Hatami said.

The shooter used the melee to target Houston, chasing and shooting him several times, even as Houston was on his knees, Hatami said.

Houston was a new father. The 21-year-old was not perfect, but he didn't deserve to die, the prosecutor told the jury.

Houston was a new father. The 21-year-old was not perfect, but he didn’t deserve to die, prosecutor Jon Hatami told the jury.

“Brandy was shot 12 times in broad daylight,” Hatami told the jury.

Homicide detectives still haven’t found the shooter, but the evidence would show that Henderson, Lockett, Sullivan and the shooter all came together and left together, Hatami said.

“Those three people are the ones who started the fight, those three people are the ones who brought the shooter and those three people are the ones responsible,” Hatami said during his opening statement.

But defense attorneys said the case was not a gang case, it was a “baby mama drama” case.

Houston had gotten into a physical fight with the mother of his child, and when the three defendants came for the woman and child, Houston and his family picked a fight, according to defense attorneys.

“Brandon was very simply out of control,” said Henderson’s defense attorney, Michael Morse, during his opening statement.

The evidence would show that Houston was looking for a fight, and had rounded up more than a dozen people to take part in the ensuing street brawl, said Sullivan’s defense attorney, Csaba Palfi.

Joshua Lockett was present, but was not involved in any of the altercations because he was afraid of Houston, said Lockett’s defense attorney, Jamal Tooson.

“Joshua didn’t do anything because Brandon had already beaten him up in the 11th grade,” Tooson said during his opening statement.

None of the three defendants knew that a gun would be involved, their defense attorneys said.

“The evidence is going to be pretty clear, none of these three men were the shooter,” Palfi said.

Hatami said he would likely call about 35 witnesses to testify during the murder trial, estimated to last up to three weeks.

Previous related stories:

Trio pleads not guilty in daylight shooting death

Gunman still at large in daylight shooting death, witnesses say

3 arrested for murder in daylight shooting death

Man shot to death in Lancaster

  25 comments for “Trial opens for 3 charged in daylight murder

  1. Troop
    March 31, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Rest in peace Brandon you’ll be forever loved. It’s ashame ppl caint fight fair I grew up with u seen ..u move from a dozen houses lol an seen ppl get smashed on . Dang cowards pull triggers , reAl ones get murdered!~~~>>> 816

  2. Stay out if the streets
    March 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    The young man that was murdered wasn’t a saint by far although no man deserves death by another man, but at the same time if you surround yourself with the type of people and activities I frequently seen Brandon involved in just of matter of time before the streets will consume you.

    • Really
      March 18, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Saint or no saint it doesn’t give you the right to take another’s persons life! You’ve seen Brandon heading in the wrong path but you did nothing to at least help out the guy stay out off trouble! Seems like you just as cold blooded as them 3 guys who now have to try an fight there way out off the system that accuses them of murder!

  3. This is b
    March 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    It show seem that Brandon people are on here lying. His sis and family is from ec 190 . His be called other [removed] to. The 3 are not in a gang. And one for sure use to sell hats in the mall out here. He was more business man then a gang kid. The truth will come out. People was out to get Brandon and that made made it easy for them to shoot him. 12 times is a assination not a fight shooting. They wanted dude no ifs n buts3 about that. He did something in the past and the shooter had more then beef with him. You don’t shoot someone 12 times over baby momma bs. That was a hit.

    • Gladys
      March 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Crimes of passion….where was the the girl he was originally fighting with?

  4. consequences
    March 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

    There are always consequences for the pain we inflict on others. It comes in many different ways, but it will always be painful to the one who inflicts.

    • OG!
      March 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      So glad there off the streets! They inflicted so now there paying for it! Just another tragic murder! They know upon eachother who did it but there all to blame for this murder! Life goes on!

  5. bird
    March 14, 2014 at 6:56 am

    We don’t need an outward force to destroy this society; we’re doing it inwardly. This nation is raging and rage destroys all in its path. Even the destroyer will fall and nothing will be left.

    • hanna
      March 14, 2014 at 7:03 am

      Gangs, “wannabe”, Latino, White; it doesn’t matter when all you have in you is poison and you want to infect all the rest of the people of good will. The only thing that trumps hate is love; you’ll see in time.

  6. MommaBear
    March 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    “Gang affiliations?” I know we have some Bloods and some reportedly “wannabe” Pirus. Have we got a sufficient number of Crips up here for this mess? Was it just a set argument? Or was it a Latino gang?

    • Add Caption
      March 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      There are no real gangs nor gangstas here in the AV. A “set” what is a set? (rhetorical) these are just young misguided & scared kids..

  7. bird
    March 13, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I know one thing; the shooter isn’t coming forward to tell his side of the story. One dead and three going to prison, and the shooter will live to shoot another day, unless a shooter shoots the shooter.

  8. well...
    March 12, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    quote: “The evidence will show that the shooter hid on the side and didn’t get in the fight… This big fight was a diversion,” Hatami said.”

    Or.. perhaps – the 3 just were there to brawl and didn’t know someone had a gun..

    • bird
      March 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

      well—If that’s the case, then the shooter should come forward to save these guys. Or more likely these three are just thrown under the bus.

      • Come forward? Seriously
        March 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        He isn’t gonna come forward. He didn’t get caught and the “hommies” will take the wrap. They don’t snitch, it’s part of the GANG code.

        • bird
          March 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

          I know the GANG code; wake up!

          • Hahaha you know the gang code
            March 17, 2014 at 6:24 am

            You KNOW the gang code?? Yet YOU said in a previous comment “the shooter should come forward to save these guys” How’s that working out for you bright guy, did he come forward yet? NO cuz the other 3 are going down for him with their mouth CLOSED. Snitches get stitches, GANG CODE. . WAKE UP!!

    • Nancy P
      March 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

      With all the traffic and activity on that street, no one SAW the shooter? I guess “snitches get stitches” is live and well in the hood. How can the witnesses sleep at night knowing what they saw?

      • Add Caption
        March 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm

        People seen the shooter, just not well enough to give a detailed description. It was so much going on and things happened so fast. Like the story says, he was hiding, so nobody seen him until after the fact.

        • Nancy P
          March 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

          I have a bridge for sale in the desert. You interested?

          • Add Caption
            July 14, 2014 at 7:40 am

            I am not sure if your response is sarcasm or not. If so, it was not needed especially since all i did was answer your question. lol

          • Nancy P
            July 14, 2014 at 11:16 am

            Wowee, Add Caption, 4 months later you’re still checking the old feeds? hmmm
            Of course I was being sarcastic. There are no bridges in the desert, silly rabbit.
            The way you explain the situation makes it seem as if the shooter was a “bushy haired stranger”, and no one knows who he is. Get real. Everyone is afraid to speak up out of fear and street loyalty. There wasn’t time to bring in a stranger, a “hit man” who was familiar enough with the surroundings to hide and get away without being seen. Duhhh.
            I wish there was a huge (HUGE) reward for information leading to his arrest AND conviction. We’d see how many “blind” people would come out of the wood work.

        • Nancy P
          July 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

          BTW, people were probably recording the whole thing on their cell phones. Why wouldn’t they be, they record and share fights all the time. End of subject and conversation/comment.

    • Add Caption
      March 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Whether or not they knew the shooter (their friend) had a gun or not, they KNOW who the shooter is and they are willing to take the wrap for that coward, then they need to be locked up for stupidity!

  9. moomoo
    March 12, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    brandon was not out of control I’ve known brandon for years and he has always been laid back and chilled he never went looking for trouble if he was ever in any type of trouble its cause trouble came looking for him imissss my [removed] brandon man this aint rite at all them 3boys knew once they went and got them other people what was gone happen they knew very well that a gun was going to be involved but justice will be served thats all iwill say cause GOD knows the truth iloveeeyou brandon my boy for life a REAL one.

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