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young robber convicted in deadly pot shop shooting wants lighter juvenile sentence

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young robber convicted in deadly pot shop shooting wants lighter juvenile sentence

a san diego judge has denied the request of a man convicted of murder to have his case transferred to juvenile court because he was 17 when he committed the crime.

kurese bell, 20, was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges in connection with two robberies in 2014, one of which ended in a shootout at a north park medical marijuana dispensary.

bell’s accomplice in the robbery, marlon thomas, was killed when the two exchanged gunfire with a security guard.

after voters p ed proposition 57 in november, bell’s lawyer asked the court for a new trial for his client and sought to have the case transferred to juvenile court where bell would face a lesser punishment.

in california, proposition 57 did away with a practice known as “direct filing,” meaning prosecutors cannot file a criminal case directly in adult court without first asking a judge to determine whether that’s appropriate for a defendant in a particular case.

the measure also sped up parole consideration for non-violent felons.

at a friday morning hearing, san diego superior court judge lorna alksne ruled the proposition does not apply retroactively, as defense attorney patrick dudley had argued, and bell’s conviction would stand.

but the judge agreed the measure entitled bell to a hearing to determine whether he will be sentenced in juvenile court or adult court. that hearing has been set for march 17.

for the case to remain in adult court, deputy district attorney robert eacret would have to persuade the judge that bell is “unfit” to be handled in the juvenile court system.

since proposition 57 p ed, several juvenile defendants being prosecuted as adults — and whose cases are pending — have asked for their cases to be transferred to juvenile court.

bell, however, is in a different category in that he had already been convicted but was not yet sentenced when the measure p ed.

he was tried last year on felony charges stemming from two armed robberies: one at illusions smoke shop in rolando on april 21, 2014, and another four days later at greener alternative medical marijuana dispensary in north park. 

prosecutors said bell and thomas were gang members and drug dealers who targeted the dispensary because they needed to “re-up” on their marijuana supply. once inside the building, they got into a shootout with a security guard.

thomas, 18, was killed. the security guard suffered a guns wound to his pelvis but survived.

if sentenced in adult court, bell faces multiple life terms. he would likely have to serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole, his lawyer has said.

if sentenced in the juvenile system, bell would likely be released from custody at age 23, which is when the juvenile court would lose jurisdiction in his case.

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