The last time Jimmie Lee Cunningham saw her grandson, she was telling him to be careful. Somebody was shot near their home days earlier, she recalled today.
Within the hour, he was dead of a gunshot to the head.
He was killed by the same man who gunned down a Temecula liquor store clerk months later, a prosecutor told a jury Monday.
The Temecula killing was one in a string of murders and robberies committed by Marcus Fletcher, 27, of San Diego, said prosecutor Sam Kaloustian.
Kedran Howard, 23, Cunningham’s grandson, was killed near his home in January, 2005. The same gun was used to kill Rafi Ibrahim, of Temecula, in April of that year, the prosecutor said.
The ballistics evidence was inconclusive, and nobody saw the San Diego killing happen, said defense attorney Michael Duncan.
Cunningham took the stand and told a story with a wobbling voice about the last time she saw Howard, occasionally dabbing her eyes with tissue.
She cared for Howard, his sister and his cousin in their San Diego home. The last time she saw him, he helped bring groceries into the house.
He then put on a blue jacket with an embroidered picture of Bugs Bunny – a gang symbol in their neighborhood, Kaloustian said – and left for a walk.
She told him to be careful, because a shooting happened nearby days before, she said. “That was the last time I saw him.”
Later, several teenaged girls came to the door and said somebody was shot nearby. Cunningham rushed to the scene, but was blocked by an officer. She asked numerous questions to figure out whether it was her grandson, but the officer said he couldn’t say, Cunningham recalled.
Her grandson never came home, and the police never called her to tell her, she said.
At least four other people testified today to hearing the gunshots, each saying they did not see the defendant.
One witness, Terreal Shegog, said he saw a car that matched the description of Fletcher’s. “I saw a white car run a stop sign and shoot down the street,” he said.
Fletcher was accused of robbing Rancho Liquor on Old Town Front Street with Dale Dante Thomas, 26, of Temecula in April, 2005. Thomas struck a plea deal and is scheduled for sentencing on Friday.
They were charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder for the fatal robbery. If convicted, Fletcher faces the death penalty.
To read more about the robbery, .