(CALMATTERS) – Three men have each been charged with three counts of murder in the April 3 Sacramento shooting that killed six and wounded 12, Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced Tuesday. All three men — brothers Smiley and Dandrae Martin, both booked in Sacramento County jail, and Mtula Payton, who prosecutors allege was out on bail for felony possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting and remains at large — are eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors haven’t yet decided whether to pursue that option. However, capital punishment is for all intents and purposes outlawed in California — Newsom placed a moratorium on the practice on his first day in office, and the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006.
At the Tuesday press conference in downtown Sacramento, prosecutors seemed frustrated with state laws they suggested have constrained their ability to charge suspects:
- For example, Schubert said her office can’t file gang enhancements against the three men due to recent changes in state law — even though “evidence shows” the shootout “was a gun battle between two rival gangs.”
- Schubert, who is running for California attorney general, has also slammed the Newsom administration for increasing inmates’ good conduct credit earning rates amid the pandemic, which contributed to Smiley Martin spending just four years in prison despite a 10-year sentence.
- Last but not least, enter California’s beleaguered unemployment department: Prosecutors allege Payton scammed the Employment Development Department out of $45,000 while in prison in 2020. EDD has acknowledged paying at least $20 billion worth of fraudulent claims during the pandemic, including nearly $1 billion to jail and prison inmates.