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Life prison terms handed down for gang members convicted in death of woman in Gaslamp

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two of three gang members convicted of murder and other charges for a 2009 shooting that killed a woman who was celebrating her 21st birthday in the Gaslamp Quarter were each sentenced Friday to life prison terms.

Dontaye Craig, 28, and Frederick Roberson, 26, were found guilty -- along with 21-year-old Rashad Scott -- of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault with a firearm -- in the Memorial Day weekend 2009 shooting that took the life of LaKiesha Mason and left two men wounded.

Roberson -- who had convictions for carjacking when he was 16 -- was sentenced to 209 years to life behind bars, while Craig was sentenced to 86 years to life. 

A fourth man charged in the shooting, Marlon Johnson, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against his co-defendants. Scott is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 13. 

LaKiesha Mason's father said the defendants had no redemptive value based on their attitude at trial, during which they were seen giggling and falling asleep.

"They feel that it is a joke," Sam Mason told Judge Charles Rogers. "(They) sit there like it was no big deal. Well, it is a big deal." 

Debra Nesby told the defendants that her daughter was her best friend. 

"You killed her dreams, as well as mine," Nesby said. "Not only have you failed as men ... you've failed as fathers."

Roberson apologized to Mason's family and his own, saying his mistakes "made it easier to put this noose around my neck." But the defendant said his sentence was not justice and questioned whether Rogers was in a position to judge him. 

Deputy District Attorney James Simmons said the victim was shot and killed when she, her sister and a friend stumbled upon a gang fight. 

Simmons said Johnson was with the co-defendants when he bumped into a rival gang member outside a Gaslamp club about 2 a.m. on May 24, 2009. 

The prosecutor said Roberson punched a member of the rival group, and Craig pulled a .38-caliber handgun and fired several shots in a crowd. Two men were wounded but survived; Mason was shot in the head and died at the scene.

"These men went out there looking for trouble," Simmons told the judge Friday. "She (Mason) didn't deserve this. This is the epitome of a gang crime."

Surveillance video from a nearby building showed Scott and Roberson walking toward the scene just before the shooting, according to Simmons, who also said DNA found on a hat and hooded sweatshirt left at the scene was linked to Roberson. 

Roberson's attorney, Frank Birchak, questioned when his client's DNA got on the hat and the sweatshirt, and Scott's attorney, Tim Chandler, said his client had nothing to do with the shooting.

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