Trial ends over 2017 Oakland killing during laptop robbery

OAKLAND — An Alameda County jury is deliberating the fate of a 30-year-old man accused of murder, after a prosecution that rested significantly on the word of a former co-defendant who accepted a plea deal in exchange for his testimony.

Odell Jones, 30, is facing murder, robbery, and assault charges in the November 2017 killing of 25-year-old Justin Sessions. Police describe the incident as a robbery setup targeting Sessions and his brother. Jones’ former co-defendant, Darryl Hickman, 34, allegedly arranged the robbery by offering the Sessions brothers laptop computers priced below market rates.

The witnesses include Justin Sessions’ brother, Joshua Sessions, who was present when he and his brother were robbed by gunmen who brought a duffel bag to the scene to make it appear that they were bringing the merchandise. Police say the idea from the start was to rob the Sessions brothers at gunpoint of the cash they brought for the computers.

Jones’ trial wrapped up Wednesday, with prosecuting and defense attorneys giving jurors their final pitches. Just weeks before trial, Hickman accepted a plea deal, pleading no contest to second-degree murder charges with the understanding that if he testified truthfully against Jones he would receive a manslaughter conviction and an 11-year prison term.

Deputy district attorney Angelina Clay said that the testimony of Joshua Sessions and Hickman clearly establish that Jones was the man who shot Justin Sessions in the back as he attempted to get away from the robbers. She said after the robbery, Jones returned because he’d dropped his car keys at the scene and a third Sessions brother was able to identify him from that encounter.

“We have the side of the perpetrators, and we have the side of one of the victims,” Clay told the jury. She said both witnesses were consistent in their description of “smaller details” of the event, which proves their credibility.

Defense attorney Annie Beles argued the charges were based on a “shoddy police investigation” and questionable witnesses, most notably Hickman, whom she described as “a person who has every reason to put someone else in that slot.”

“Mr. Hickman is trying to save his own skin,” Beles said, later adding that upon careful examination of all evidence, “you will see that it is not enough.”

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