A high-ranking southwest Fresno gang member will stand trial for the Easter Sunday killing of a rival, a judge ruled Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court.
Judge John Vogt made his ruling after a Fresno police detective testified that Jerel Stanfield, 25, fatally shot 23-year-old William Simpson on March 31 to promote the Strother Boys street gang.
Simpson was a member of the Dog Pound, which has a long-running feud with the Strother Boys, detective Melanie Mayo testified.
Stanfield is "a shooter" for the Strother Boys gang and is considered a "Hot Boy," a gang member "who brings police or the heat" to the gang's turf near Chandler Airport, Mayo said.
Stanfield has "HB" tattooed on one of his arms and had previously served time in prison for street terrorism and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the detective said.
The judge also ruled that Stanfield will stand trial for pointing a gun at Simpson's pregnant girlfriend, Lajeana Ramsey, after Simpson was shot multiple times in the parking lot of an apartment complex on North Clark Street near Ashlan Avenue and Highway 41.
In addition, he will face five other felony charges of evading police and assault on a peace officer during his March 31 arrest, and for allegedly wounding two other men in a drive-by shooting at Shields and Hughes avenues on March 26.
Until his trial, Stanfield will be held in the Fresno County Jail. His bail is $2.39 million.
Wearing a red jail jumpsuit and with an arm in a sling, Stanfield sat in a wheelchair during his two-day preliminary hearing. During his arrest, he was shot in the head and back by police after he crashed an SUV near Arthur and Strother avenues in southwest Fresno.
Police recovered a loaded 40-caliber handgun near Stanfield, but it's unclear if that gun was used to kill Simpson, who was shot with a 40-caliber handgun, testimony revealed.
Mayo testified that gang members of Stanfield's caliber demand respect.
Prior to Simpson's murder, a Strother Boy had been killed and rumors on the street pointed to the Dog Pound as the perpetrator, Mayo said.
Stanfield had another reason for killing Simpson, Mayo said. Simpson was known to promote his gang by wearing a baseball cap with the letter P. The P stands for the Doug Pound, she said.
On Monday, detective Andre Benson testified that Simpson, Ramsey and her 3-year-old child went to the Clark Street apartment complex during the early hours of March 31 to stay with a friend. But the friend was not home.
While Simpson stood outside his car, his girlfriend and her child fell asleep in the car, Benson testified. When gunfire erupted, the girlfriend woke up, grabbed her child, and saw Stanfield holding a handgun before he left in a sports utility vehicle, Benson said. Police later found a mortally wounded Simpson lying among six 40-caliber shell casings, he said.
But on cross-examination, Benson admitted that Simpson's girlfriend initially didn't identify the shooter. Benson testified that the woman told him that she feared for her life and that of her child.
A few days after the killing, she identified Stanfield, who she said was a friend of her brother's and a Facebook friend of hers, Benson testified.
Ramsey did not testify at Stanfield's preliminary hearing.
After Stanfield was ordered to stand trial, his attorney, Robert Wynne, told reporters that Ramsey is not a credible witness, noting that she has posted on her Facebook page that she didn't know and didn't see who shot her boyfriend.
Wynne also said Stanfield didn't shoot Simpson. He was at home with family members at the time of the killing, the lawyer said.
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