Attorneys Disagree About Whether Fatal Shooting Was a Murder

September 7, 2018 Updated: September 7, 2018

A prosecutor and a defense attorney agreed on September 6 that Veelewrance Harrison fatally shot Juan Hernandez in East Oakland three years ago but they disagreed about whether he acted in self-defense or should be convicted of murder.

Harrison, 39, is accused of shooting Hernandez, 30, of Oakland, with a .45-caliber handgun in the 7500 block of Arthur Street, near where Harrison lived, at 12:18 a.m. on November 16, 2015. Hernandez was pronounced dead about 10 minutes later.

Harrison’s lawyer Annie Beles admitted in her closing argument in his trial on September 6 that Harrison shot Hernandez but said he did so in self-defense because he thought Henderson was reaching for a gun in his pocket, although no gun was found on or near Hernandez’s body.

Beles said Harrison thought Hernandez was still armed with a gun because Hernandez had shot at Harrison’s girlfriend’s car a short time earlier.

“Mr. Harrison killed him not because he wanted vengeance but because he thought he was going to die,” Beles said.

Beles, who said Harrison should be found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter, said Harrison “feels terrible but he also wanted to live.”

But prosecutor Butch Ford said he believes Harrison shot Hernandez in retaliation for shooting at his girlfriend and should be convicted of murder.

“This is about being a vigilante,” Ford said.

Ford said that if Harrison truly was in fear of Hernandez, he should have called police instead of arming himself with a gun and actively seeking Hernandez out.

In addition, Ford said if Harrison really acted in self-defense, he only would have shot Hernandez once instead of shooting him eight times, including in his head, neck, leg, and buttocks.

“If you shoot somebody eight times it is murder,” he said. “It’s intent to kill.”

However, Beles said Harrison kept shooting at Hernandez because Hernandez kept moving and Harrison thought he still might have a chance to reach for a gun.

Beles said, “He kept shooting until the danger was gone.”

Jurors began deliberating Harrison’s fate on September 6 afternoon.

By Jeff Shuttleworth.