Lorenzo Darnell Anderson was sentenced to 29 years to life in prison on Wednesday for his role in the murder of 17-year-old Hoover High School student Andrew Vann and the robbery of two others.
Anderson, 22, showed little emotion as Judge Jane Cardoza read the sentence. He bowed his head briefly as he looked at public defender Roberto Dulce.
Anderson was convicted last May in the death of Vann. The fatal shooting happened around 7:15 p.m. March 31, 2016, near the Northeast Assembly of God Church near Chestnut and Holland avenues. Police testified that Vann, through a Facebook post, agreed to sell Anderson some marijuana.
When Vann and a friend arrived at the location, Anderson tried to rob them of the marijuana. After a brief struggle over the drugs, Anderson’s partner shot Vann as he sat in his car. The bullets pierced Vann’s lungs. Vann was later pronounced dead at Community Regional Medical Center.
Dulce asked Cardoza for leniency, hoping she would grant Anderson probation rather than prison because he was not the gunman.
The shooter has never been arrested and Anderson has not revealed that person’s identity. He was tried under the felony-murder rule, which says if someone is killed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a defendant can be found guilty of murder, even if he or she didn’t pull the trigger.
Anderson’s father Carmen Anderson said his son never intended to kill anyone and he feels badly for Vann’s family. But he said his son is not a stone cold killer.
“He never wanted anything like that to happen,” Anderson said.
Vann’s family members tearfully spoke about the loss of their loved one.
“The pain of losing him will never go away,” said his mother Phean Vann. “I will never get to see him graduate, get married or have grandkids. I go to bed every night hoping to see him in my dreams and hear his voice.”
Cardoza denied the request for probation, saying that while Anderson didn’t pulled the trigger, he committed a very calculated and tragic crime.
Using a Facebook page, Anderson and his accomplice lured people into selling them marijuana. The pair then robbed people who fell for it.
They had done it at least once before. About two weeks earlier, Anderson and another person tried to rob a man and woman outside the Northeast Assembly of God Church in the 4300 block of North Chestnut.
That time, the robbery attempt failed. And the gunman fired a shot towards the car, grazing the woman. Anderson was charged and convicted of second degree robbery in that case.
Deputy District Attorney Kelly Smith, pushed for the maximum sentence against Anderson for both crimes — the murder and the robbery. He said Anderson should have learned from the first robbery attempt that he was making the wrong choices.
“He learned absolutely nothing,” Smith said. “He aided and abetted to first degree murder. He deserves no mercy from the court...”
Cardoza agreed by imposing the maximum sentence, a combined 29 years for both crimes. She also could not fathom how someone would murder another person over an ounce of marijuana.
“Suffice to say this crime was completely senseless,” she said.