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Court confrontation at Pomona arraignment

November 2, 2009 12:29:51 AM PST
A shouting match between two very upset family members erupted outside a Pomona courtroom. The 10 defendants are Latino. The victim was African American. His mother says the murder was racially motivated.Marquis LeBlanc, 18, was beaten and shot to death outside a house party in April. Police said at least 200 people attended the party, and LeBlanc was shot after a fight.

LeBlanc's mother, Jessica Corde, wants the case prosecuted as a hate crime. So far, defendants have not been charged as such. In fact, family members of some of the defendants say the real killers are suspected gang members who left the scene before police arrived and are still at large.

Emotions overflowed in the hallway of the Los Angeles County Courthouse in Pomona Monday morning. Jessica Corde confronted family members of defendants accused of taking part in her son's killing.

"My son is dead," said Corde. "He's not coming back and he did not deserve what happened to him."

The 10 Hispanic defendants were arraigned Monday and charged in connection with the killing of LeBlanc.

The murder happened at a house party in Pomona in April. Prosecutors accuse the defendants, who range in age from 15 to 18 years old, of engaging in a "mob" murder, allegedly beating, stabbing and shooting the victim. None of the defendants has been charged with a hate crime.

But Corde believes her son's killing was racially motivated.

"My son was black," said Corde. "He was the only black there. He was attacked by all Latinos. I believe it was racial. My son didn't stand a chance. He was by himself. If you're so coward that you need guns and knives and boards, why do you need 14, 15 people on one person?"

The L.A. District Attorney's Office declined comment Monday on any alleged racial motivation, saying prosecutors have not yet presented their theory of what happened. Prosecutors will do so at a preliminary hearing in December.

Meantime, family members of the defendants deny the killing was racially motivated and proclaim their innocence.

"This thing's not racial at all," said one defendant's mother, Maria Padilla. "We love everybody in this world that comes by god. The ones that committed the murder ran out. The ones that didn't have nothing to do with the murder stood there. When the cops got there, got the guys that didn't do the murder, and now what happens? They're here innocently in jail."

John Tyre, is one of many defense attorneys in the case.

"Obviously it appeared to be a very inflamed situation, but I can understand the fact that someone lost their son. It's a very, very serious situation," said Tyre.

Three of the defendants are minors and are charged as adults.

The judge decided to move the remainder of the case to downtown L.A. citing security reasons.

A preliminary hearing is set for December 9.


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