LANCASTER – A state appeals court panel Tuesday upheld a man’s conviction for fatally shooting a man during a 2012 street brawl in Lancaster.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in the trial of Cedric Burton Jr., who is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole.
Burton was convicted in September 2018 of first-degree murder for the Nov. 29, 2012, slaying of Brandy “Brandon” Houston. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait.
“There was substantial evidence that appellant launched a surprise attack on Houston, an unsuspecting victim, from a position of advantage,” the appellate court justices found. “The jury reasonably could have found that Houston, seeing appellant waiting by the gate where he and his companions had first appeared, viewed appellant as a noncombatant, and that Houston’s attention was diverted from appellant by the fistfight.”
Three other men — Terrell Henderson, Randy Sullivan and Joshua Lockett — were sentenced in 2014 to potential life prison terms after being convicted of second-degree murder for Houston’s killing. A state appeals court panel subsequently rejected the defense’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to support their convictions, and the California Supreme Court refused in 2016 to review the case.
The brawl was spurred by an argument between 21-year-old Houston and his live-in girlfriend, who had called her sister for a ride, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Her sister sent Henderson, Sullivan and 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.
The men later returned with Burton, and a melee erupted in which Burton shot the victim 11 times, authorities said.
Burton was arrested in May 2016 by sheriff’s detectives in connection with the killing. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury.
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