A jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday for the man charged in a fatal, gang-related stabbing in Lompoc but could not come to an agreement for his co-defendant.
Dequan Jahlil Matthews and Edward Dion Carter began their retrial at the Santa Maria Superior Court in November, after a jury in 2016 could not return a decision on charges made against the pair in connection to the 2015 death of Jesse Lara.
On Thursday, a jury found Matthews guilty of second-degree murder and, also, found the weapons and gang enhancements to be true. He now faces a sentence of 16 years to life -- 15 years for the murder charge and one year for the use of the knife.
Matthews will be sentenced March 12.
As to his co-defendant Carter, the jury remained hung 10-2 on the second-degree murder count, according to the prosecution. The court declared a mistrial for Carter, and he will return to court Monday to set future court dates. The case could either result in a settlement following negotiations between the defense and prosecution or, possibly, go to trial again.
Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins said that he couldn't comment on the verdict but thanked the jury for their time and effort on the case.
"This was a very, very long trial. The jury was in court a very long time for this case starting with voire dire back in October," said Deputy Public Defender Brian Carroll, who represented Carter for both trials. "I think they paid close attention throughout trial."
Matthew's attorney David Bixby also extended his thanks to the jury for listening carefully to three solid months of testimony.
The jury began deliberating Friday afternoon after closing statements wrapped up.
On the night Lara died, Matthews and Carter, along with fellow 62Brims member Damian Simpson and a juvenile referred to as Mr. B, were allegedly driving down North M Street when they encountered VLP members and a fight ensued.
Autopsy reports showed that Lara was stabbed eight times, reportedly by Mathews. A knife tip had broken off as a result of the stabbing.
The prosecution maintained the pair went to VLP territory in Lompoc the night of Lara's death for the purpose of gang warfare and payback. The defense countered that the two were on their way to a party and that when Matthews allegedly stabbed Lara during a fight with multiple VLP members, it was carried out for self-defense.