LANCASTER – A man who allegedly shot another another man to death during a 2012 street brawl in Lancaster pleaded not guilty Friday to murder.
Cedric Carl Burton Jr., 31, is charged in the Nov. 29, 2012, killing of Brandy “Brandon” Houston, 21, during a brawl in the 43000 block of Gadsden Avenue.
The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and murder to further the activities of a criminal street gang. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Burton.
Along with the murder count, Burton is charged with six counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8 at the Antelope Valley courthouse to determine if there is enough evidence to require Burton to stand trial.
Burton was arrested last May while entering the Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster on an unrelated case, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza said last year.
According to the sheriff’s department, the street brawl began as an argument between Houston and his live-in girlfriend, who called her sister for a ride.
Her sister sent three Lancaster men — Terrell Henderson, Randy Sullivan and Joshua Lockett — to pick her up, and they got into an argument with Houston and his family members. The three men left, but promised to return, sheriff’s officials said.
Later, they returned with two other men — one of whom allegedly was Burton — and a melee erupted.
According to prosecutors, Burton walked through the crowd during the brawl and shot Houston 12 times.
Henderson, Sullivan and Lockett were later arrested, tried and convicted of second-degree murder. All three were sentenced in 2014 to potential life prison terms.
In a November 2015, a state appeals court panel rejected the defense’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support their convictions.
The three-justice appellate court panel found the evidence established that the three dropped off the victim’s girlfriend and her baby and then “drove away with the singular purpose of going back to fight Houston and his family.”
“Here, there was evidence defendants sought out a confrontation with Houston’s group. They picked up two additional men as backup, including the shooter,” the justices found in a 20-page ruling.
The California Supreme Court refused last February to review the case against the three.
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