18-year-old Fresno gang member gets 75 years for killing rival

The Fresno BeeJune 2, 2014 

Marquise Leavy

An 18-year-old Fresno gang member was sentenced Monday to 75 years to life in prison for killing a rival and wounding the rival's brother in a drive-by shooting two years ago.

In announcing the sentence, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Arlan Harrell told teenager Marquise Leavy to mature in prison so he could be a productive citizen one day.

"If not, I'm sure there will always be space for you in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation," Harrell said.

Leavy declined to address the court.

In April, a jury found Leavy used a sawed-off shotgun to murder 20-year-old Maurice Graves for the benefit of the Hoover Crips street gang. Jurors also found him guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of the victim's younger brother, Marquise Graves.

During the trial, prosecutor Stephanie Savrnoch said the two brothers -- associates of the Northside street gang -- were shot during the late hours of June 24, 2012, while walking on Robinson Avenue near Marks and Hughes avenues in central Fresno.

The first blast grazed Marquise Graves in the stomach. The second blast hit his older brother in the back. Maurice Graves was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

In a confession to police, Leavy, then 16 years old, admitted he aimed a sawed-off shotgun at the two brothers and pulled the trigger. But he thought the safety was on, said attorney Antonio Alvarez, who defended Leavy.

Savrnoch told the jury Leavy wasn't telling the truth when he said the gun went off accidentally. She said the Remington pump-action shotgun had to be "racked" to fire a round.

Monday, Alvarez said his client has apologized to the victims' family.

He also said Leavy had a horrible childhood. He was raised without a father and his mother died when he was 11, Alvarez said, and that of those 11 years, the mother was in prison.

"He grew up on the streets and the streets were his parents," Alvarez said.

Though Leavy was a juvenile at the time of the shooting, he was charged as an adult because of the seriousness of the crime. Had he been an adult, he would have faced life in prison without parole, Alvarez said. Leavy will be eligible for parole when he is around 41 years old, Alvarez said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, plopez@fresnobee.com or @beecourts on Twitter.

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