SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A jury Thursday recommended life in prison without parole for a man convicted of killing three people between 2005 and 2007.
Michael Baraka Mason, 36, was convicted Nov. 7 of three counts of first-degree murder, false imprisonment and special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery and multiple murders. Jurors also found the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang.
After listening to testimony in the trial's penalty phase, jurors recommended the life sentence for the July 14, 2007, murder of 30-year-old Tim Traaen.
Jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of recommending a life sentence for the 2005 murders of 31-year-old Meico McGhee and 25-year-old Sacha Newbern, prompting Judge David Gill to declare a mistrial on that portion of the penalty phase. A status conference was set for Jan. 14 to determine if prosecutors will seek a penalty phase retrial on the unresolved counts.
During the guilt phase of the trial, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna said Mason was one of several masked robbers who burst into a home on Nov. 25, 2005, and held five people hostage before shooting McGhee and Newbern. The victims, forced into a bathtub before being shot at close range, died at a hospital the next day.
The prosecutor said Mason "chose to execute" the victims and "chose" to flee. He was caught in Las Vegas in November 2007 after being featured on "America's Most Wanted."
Mason left DNA and other evidence behind that exposed him "as the multiple murderer that he is," Campagna said.
Mason was also convicted of murder and attempted murder in the shooting death of Traaen and the wounding of his girlfriend during an attempted armed robbery in Normal Heights.
Police said Traaen and his girlfriend had just left a bar and were about to get into their car on Suncrest Drive when a gunman approached and demanded money just after midnight.
Another defendant, Tamoyia Morris, faces a retrial on the 2005 murders after a jury deadlocked on those charges.