The following is the story of Steven ‘Kamikazi’ Jones, Jr in which he discusses his innocence claim:
THE UNTOLD STORY
At age 18, Steven ‘Kamikazi’ Jones Jr. was living a neighborhood kids dream. He witnessed the birth of his twin princesses in January, then six months later he was touring with his music band Fatal Konnektion. Under the stage name Kamikazi his reputation as a poetic lyricist sparked his career. By age 19, he’d become one of Bay Area’s favorite rappers, collaborating with several artists. He and Theo ‘Big Cuz’ Parker founded Realizme ENT. embracing Hip-Hop artists Nationwide. “The movement was real, you could feel it. Everywhere we went the energy was live, the fans were fanatic,” Steven Jones commented. This movement Steven speaks of was spearheaded by Bay Area Pioneers, involving the hottest artists of the era.
Nationwide R.A.N. was a group project that showcased Fatal Konnektion’s creativity, versatility, and professionalism. This project featured TOO $hort, E-40, Eightball,The Whoridaz, Nate Dogg, D-Shot, Keek the Sneak, Suga Free, and Rappin 4-Tay as headliners. The much anticipated ‘Nationwide Tour’ was set for June 2002. Unfortunately Steven was arrested on domestic violence charges and wasn’t released on bail until August. The project was still released on schedule but didn’t live up to its potential without the tour.
Immediately after release Steven attended San Francisco City College for business classes. He released two street albums, and featured on several projects released by the Mob Figaz.
Fast forward to 2003, Steven moved his family to Antioch, Ca. where he joined forces with Shaheed ‘The Jacka’ Akhbar. There was a urban story teller in ‘Kazi’ and a raw vivid flow of ‘The Jacka.’ Produced by Rob lo, and engineered by Macky, the album was expected to be epic, nothing short of a masterpiece.
By September of ‘03, Steven received Felony Probation for the domestic violence charge, and was thereby ordered to attend 16 weeks of Anger Management classes. Still determined to finish the album, he lived in the studio, and slept on the road. Touring with fellow musicians and recording for hire, he traveled out the state risking violating probation.
April of 2004, Steven was arrested for battery in Auburn, N.Y after performing at a record release party. Booked under the assumed name Micheal Griffith he avoided a probation hold until seeing a judge. He was released the next morning. His reason for using his cousin’s I.D was simple; he was on Felony Probation and technically wasn’t supposed to leave the state. Never could he foresee, how this would later be misconceived as him being on the run.
If that was the case why would he come closer to where he was wanted?
Highly sought after, Steven flew into Las Vegas airport approximately May 7, 2003. Within the last 11 days as a free man, he was invited to more parties than he could attend. “As a young wealthy rap star I became a target. Despised by those who wanted to be me, just as much being hunted by scandalous women. As my popularity grew, it seem like I clashed more with the law” (S. Jones).
On May 19, 2004[ ], Steven was arrested and held on five felony charges which he was acquitted of four months later. While awaiting release, he [was] extradited back to California on Murder charges. He was questioned concerning his whereabouts on November 2, 2003 as if he could really give a truthful answer. Who would know where they were at six or seven months prior? Unless it was a special occasion you wouldn’t, so he didn’t try and invoked his right to counsel. “I was always told, rather you innocent or not have a attorney present,” commented S. Jones. Apparently he was being implicated in a Robbery / Murder that stemmed from a drug deal gone bad.
On November 1st, 2003, a man by the name of Ian Gonzales met with another man outside Club West in Eureka, accompanied by three other individuals. The two men negotiated on four pounds of marijuana for $12,000 agreeing to meet the next morning… On Nov. 2nd, Gonzales arrived in a truck with his friends John Jarvis and Devon Owens. The man he later identified as Leon Flanagan arrived in a Green Ford Taurus with three other occupants. Gonzales and who he identified as being David Jones negotiated outside, smoking a marijuana joint. At some point Jarvis and Ms. Owens left the truck, so when Gonzales was ready to do the deal he walked toward them, leaving the marijuana in the cab of the truck. Allegedly that’s when David Jones stole the bag of marijuana and made a run for a now moving car.
Gonzales and Jarvis jumped in the truck and pursued the green four door sedan ramming its trunk several times. When both vehicles spin out of control a man exits the vehicle from the driver side, retrieves a firearm from the trunk and fires 5 to 6 rounds, killing Jarvis and wounding Gonzales. Gonzales’ father Micheal Thurman was trailing the chase and at some point during or after the shooting he fired shots at the green Taurus. Multiple witness account[s say]: it was a single gunman, wearing a blue coat, and looked like he was in his 30s.
Sheriffs arrived to the scene approximately 4 p.m. and secured the perimeter. After recovery of the vehicle they determined the four suspects were on foot. Two of the four, Leon Flanagan and James Gordon, were apprehended not far from the crime scene. Trinity and Humbolt County Sheriff’s Department continued their search for the remaining two suspects until 4 a.m. They blocked roads and [were] confident no one slipped passed them. Trinity County Sheriffs testified “there were no reported break-ins or stolen vehicles.” This information will prove to be very significant.
Once in Trinity County Jail, Flanagan and Gordon both denied any knowledge of a shooting. Hours later after being able to connunicate with each other, Flanagan then request to speak to the lead investigator on the case, Martin Nawrock. His first interview was recorded, then a few days later he had another interview. Now Gordon was also requesting to talk to Nawrock. While their version of events differed, they managed to agree on who they would finger. Flanagan initial story was placing all the blame on one person, Steven Jones. He said it was Steven [who] took the marijuana, driving the car and the shooter. Gordon’s statements were also placing blame on Steven being the shooter and he was only the driver… The jail sheriffs were aware of the ability for inmates to talk to each other from pod to pod using the phone.
In July of 2004, D.A. Michael Harper and his lead detective Nawrock met with Flanagan where they determined, his credibility was an issue. Subsequently, D.A. Harper chose to forego his statements and proceed with Gordon being the shooter.
After motions for change of venue were denied, attorneys began to doubt rather or not their clients would receive a fair trial. There was less than .02 percent African-Americans among a population of 10,000 which equates to two people; a grandmother and her grandson. Interesting because the NAACP, launched a civil rights investigation into Trinity High School when newspapers published a very troubling story. Apparently a student thought it was funny to make monkey jokes. As appalling it may sound, when the black kid told the teacher he told the white kid to tell the grandmother the joke. That’s when the grandmother reported the incident, and as retaliation the black kid was later kicked out of the school.
This open display [of] racial hatred was during the time these black men were on trial for murdering a white man. Perspective jurors were honest in saying they felt they couldn’t be fair and impartial. Others feared to be fair would probably mean they would be run out of town if they didn’t vote with the majority.
District Attorney Harper used the home court to his advantage, playing on the race factor. His opening argument kicked off with a reminder: “this is a case of a drug deal gone bad, when this man and his crew chose to rip off the local’s weed.” (M. Harper) He proceeded with eyewitness testimony describing the shooter’s height, build, and clothing. It was no question to there being only one shooter and based on the evidence and confession of Gordon he was that guy. When detective Nawrock was asked by Harper: “Is the information and evidence consistent with Gordon being the shooter in this case?” his response was “YES, based on all the information I have up to this point.” Gordon took the stand on his own behalf, testifying he never told Micheal Waxler he was the shooter. D.A. Harper grilled him as lying to save his own skin. A jury found Gordon guilty of 1st Degree Murder and sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole. (Flanagan was never called to testify for either side).
Steven and David Jones, members of the talented music group Fatal Konnektion, were set to go to trial next. Leon Flanagan turned state’s evidence and entered a plea for 10 years (see Case # 05F0002B, 05F0002C). Negative publicity surrounding the band’s name and their own stage names ‘Kamikazi’ and ‘Danker’ had them pegged as gang members instead of musicians. Still there was no motion filed for change of venue. Furthermore, trial counsels John Webster and Frank O’Conner of Redding were threatened, making them feel conflicted with representing their clients. At the end of the day, they had to live there. Still there was no effort by Judge Anthony Edwards to safeguard the defendants’ right to a fair trial.
With barely enough jurors on the panel for Gordon’s trial, there was question to rather there would be enough jurors to poll. So, when potential jurors began telling how they felt and being blatantly honest, Judge Edwards made a point, “We have to try this case here. I believe you can put your differences aside and get this done.” (A. Edwards) From that point, Steven’s family contacted the NAACP seeking their assistance. At the time their offices were overwhelmed and they couldn’t help. Steven remembers while pulling into Trinity County in the back of the Sheriff’s car thinking “Where the hell these people taking me.” He describes the climax up a 10,000 ft. mountain with no guardrails as a eye opening moment. He was now in the fight of his life with no knowledge of how many foul blows his opponent will throw to obtain a guilty verdict. Optimistic of the truth coming to light, he went to trial confident. However, a corrupt District Attorney office with a pit bull Detective had no regard for truth or being fair.
The case against Steven was extremely weak. There was a mixture of his DNA and two other unknown persons on a hat, and doo-rag found inside Flanagan’s vehicle. There was also a stain of some sort of biological substance, degraded and contaminated found on the back seat. The reliability of this evidence was challenged during a 402 evidence hearing. D.O.J. technician Barry A. Miller testified “With consideration of all the facts I received from crime scene investigators, the clothing and stain from the back seat was insignificant to the case.” Also adding, the samples weren’t fresh.
Ms. Nicole Ignacio, a DNA analyst for the prosecution testified she didn’t know when the DNA was deposited nor who was the last one to wear the headgear. As far as the stain was concerned she was of the opinion, “Iit could have been there for months to years. By the degradation, that tells me it wasn’t a fresh sample. Furthermore, there is no testimony of any suspects wearing any headgear or a reason why this evidence would be relevant to connecting a suspect to this crime.”
By the prosecution’s own witness opinion the DNA evidence in itself was old and insignificant.
After the hearing, trial counsel made a motion to exclude based on the evidence not being relevant and prejudicial. Harper argued, “Without the DNA we have no case. It at least shows he was in the car at some point. I think it should be up to the jury to decide when.” Needless to say, Judge Edwards ruled in favor of prosecution, citing no legal authority or evaluation of the evidence for its prjudicial effect.
A woman by the name of Lintasha Barrett was inside Clubwest on the night of Nov. 1, 2003. Detective Nawrock thought she was a person of interest during his investigation. Apparently she was a Native from Richmond, but then living in Eureka. Nawrock tracked her down to her grandmother’s house in Eureka around July of ‘04. He set up a meeting time, upon which he showed her some photos of Steven, David Jones, Gordon and Flanagan a part of a four man line up. When asked did she recognize any of them she said “NO.” Through more persuasive questioning he got her to sign two photos. However, there was no admission form, written, or recorded statement to go with it. Very important because this alledged identification was made nearly 8 months after the night in question. She signed the two photos because one’s eyes looked similar to someone she’d seen in the club that night and the other one’s braids looked similar. A trickly, underhand tactic Nawrock uses to get her to sign the photos. At the end of the day, it’ll be his word against hers what she actually said in why she signed. In fact that’s what happened. When she testified she never positively identified anyone, Nawrock took the stand soon after saying she did.
Trial Counsel Webster never challenged this crucial identification during the pre-trial 402 evidence hearing. With no admission form or signed statement this was not a valid ID at all. Nawrock boasted about himself as being a thorough investigator and it’s his protocol to keep a recorder and pen handy. How is it that he was unprepared, when he arrainged the meeting? This wasn’t the first time this detective practiced deceit and fabricated evidence, and it wouldn’t be the last. It was also suspicious timing for this. Steven was in Clark County Detention Center on trial for an unrelated case, and the D.A.’s office there wasn’t convinced Steven was involved in the Murder. Extradition costs money and to be released from another state, the Governor must sign off on the transfer. That requires some showing of guilt, which at that time Nawrock had none. All of a sudden a month later comes this.
See, Steven’s rights were violated long before he went to trial. Since the very first attorney visit he warned Trial counsel Webster of the monitors and two-way intercom in the library (attorney visiting room). There was no doubt to the regular visiting room for inmates with family, but this was the only two rooms Steven was afforded to talk to his attorney. Mr. Webster assured that he’ll make sure the monitors where off and they weren’t recording. “I felt like, who could I trust? My Lawyer telling me he know I’m innocent and he gone fight with his life but I didn’t see that” (S. Jones).
There was information that would definitely help exonerate him, but he didn’t trust telling his attorney fearing the District Attorney would learn of their strategy. “I should’ve followed my first mind and hired Joseph Caramagno” (S. Jones), referring to his trial counsel in Las Vegas.
One of the Nation’s longest standing rights for a defendant is to have private consultation with his attorney, 6th amendment. The Jones family requested a change of venue after seeing the negative publicity and hearing of their son’s adversity dealing with racism, he [mr. Webster] again made false promises. As the record clearly shows he made no effort to request a change of venue to ensure his client received a fair trial.
There was no new evidence between the two trials of Gordon and the Jones’s, yet in opening argument, D.A. Harper again points to the man on trial as being the gunman. Relying on statements from Flanagan which he formerly disavowed as false, he proceeded with no regard for the truth. His problem existed from the time Steven was arraigned. At some point he had to know, he would have to prove Steven’s culpability. Based on his actions which is really troubling, he knew he was prosecuting an innocent man. Think about it; the only mention of Steven’s name is through Flanagan’s statements. If all the evidence points to Gordon being the shooter, David Jones stealing the marijuana, Flanagan, and D’wayne Williams as passengers/driver, how does Steven fit in this picture?
Another point of emphasis, had Gordon been found guilty as being the shooter, what role would the D.A. then attribute to Steven? A logical answer would be NONE. An even more reasonable determination is that D.A. Harper knew of this dilemma and without using testimony he believed to false he would’ve been compelled to drop charges against Steven. Trial Counsel Webster made a timely objection to the statement of his client being the shooter, made by Flanagan, because the prosecution tried someone else in a prior trial. The court ruling was, “the jury in Gordon’s trial found the shooting allegation untrue, so I will allow it” (A. Edwards)
Likewise on appeal: People v. Jones (case# CO52707), their opinion was, “because Gordon was not found to be the shooter, it cannot be said the verdict in Steven’s trial was false. Furthermore if there was inconsistent theories, there is no United State Supreme Court case to address this issue.”
This ruling clearly ignored the false factual basis, that inconsistent irreconcilable theories represent. (See: In Re Sakarias, Smith v. Groove, Thompson v. Calderon, Mitchell v. Stumpf).
The true issue here is: the falsehood coming from key prosecution witnesses, and the District Attorney’s office turning a blind eye. Again, if D.A. Harper believed Flanagan alleging Steven was the shooter, then he would’ve never tried Gordon as being the shooter. If he did not believe Flanagan, then he would later have used evidence which he believed was false. In the Poulin article: Making the prosecution get its story straight,1 the author writes about this very problem. Due process violations exist in any trial; inconsistent, irreconcilable theories exist because in increasing the culpability of one defendant, you also create the potential to convict someone who’s actually innocent.
Trial resumed with prosecution witnesses that wound up being more helpful for the defense. Ms. Devon Owens identified Steven’s co-defendant but didn’t recognize him as being one of the four men she seen at the rest stop. Victim and eyewitness Ian Gonzales also identified the co-defendant D. Jones, but didn’t recognize Steven as being one of the four men either. In fact, he goes further to testify he is 100% sure he wasn’t involved. The four men he identified were: James Gordon, Leon Flanagan, D’wayne Williams, and David Jones.
Gonzales had no reason to lie for Steven when he was sitting right next to a man he just identified. His identification of Williams was consistent with his out of court I.D., and on his admission form he signed it as being 100% sure. This evidence was the crack in the case, when the identity and credibility of witnesses was the thread of the case.
Fingerprint expert Barbara Phillips testified there were several prints in the car, from the various items to windows. Even children’s handprints were found, suggesting the car wasn’t wiped clean. While matching prints to three defendants she was able to exclude Steven.
A palm print was on a map that the prosecution got a court order to get Steven’s, citing “There is an unidentified palm print on a crucial piece of evidence” (M. Harper). Complying with the order, Steven submitted his palm print twice, and was also excluded as the maker of that print. However, when Ms. Phillips requested D’wayne Williams’ palm print from Det. Nawrock to rule him out, Nawrock told her: “NO, he has nothing to do with the case.” She was appalled by the statement and felt he interfered with her investigation. As said earlier in this story, Nawrock was the bad seed in the field of honesty. Once he began tampering with evidence, intimidating witnesses, misleading witnesses, as lead Detective, the district attorney was along for the ride. Tainting everything about this case. Add perjury amongst other things was expected, considering his investigative work manifested falsehood.
When put on the stand, Nawrock finds it hard to admit that no one identified Steven as being in Trinity County on the day of crime, or anytime in the past for that matter. With all this evidence presented, fingerprints, eyewitness accounts, ballistics, nothing traces back to Steven.
Important when determining the guilt of someone, there must be evidence without the shadow of a doubt. Flanagan received a 10 year deal for his truthful and honest testimony. However, when Nawrock testifies in Gordon’s trial, he believes Flanagan was being untruthful, and for obvious reasons. His version of events was that he knew nothing of a gun being in the trunk of his car, he’d never driven his Father’s car before that weekend, Mr. Thurman shot at them first, and Steven was the man who done the shooting.
First, it’s unbelievable to think the owner of a vehicle doesn’t know what’s in their trunk. Then again, as he testified concerning a clip (magazine) found in his pocket on a prior arrest, he says “an enemy walked up to me, gave me a hug and put it in my pocket.” This is a guy with a prior Manslaughter conviction and was known to carry firearms. It’s very likely the gun used in this case was his.
Another botch in the investigation was, no GSR testing done on Flanagan or Gordon. Why not? Surely it would’ve cleared up at least the issue of the shooter. Flanagan was about 6’3”, 240. Gonzales description of the shooter was 6’4”, 250. Nontheless, the district attorney strongly disagreed with Thurman shooting at them first, as this would mean they acted in self-defense. In Gordon’s trial, Harper learned that he had driven his father’s vehicle on several occasions yet when he testified concerning this matter, Harper knew it was a lie. A lie is a lie, and the D.A.’s duty is [to] correct it when he knows it. In closing arguments, he would benefit by this lie, suggesting “if Flanagan never driven this car before the weekend of November 1st 2003, then how did Steven’s DNA get in the car?”
The DNA evidence in itself only proves Steven was in Flanagan’s car at some time in the past, which defense doesn’t deny, he knew Flanagan. He knew his kid’s mother April Flanagan as well, who used to drive the Green Taurus on occasions. Flanagan was a frequent visitor to the Pullman Townhouses where he’d known Steven to hang out. As he slips up in testifying he knew Steven since 2000, while minimizing their relationship to just meeting in the studio a couple months prior to the crime. Even the court of appeals (3rd dist.) CASE# C52707 PEOPLE v. JONES, held “there’s unrefuted evidence that Steven never been in the Green Ford Taurus before the weekend of the crime.” Based on Flanagan’s testimony, which was a lie.
The United States Supreme Court holds, “when the reliability of a given witness may well be determinative of guilt or innocence, nondisclosure of evidence effecting credibility falls within rule that suppression of material evidence justifies a new trial irrespective of good faith or bad faith of the prosecution. 92 S.Ct.763 405 U.S 150, Giglio v. U.S. (1972). District Attorney Harper robbed Steven’s trial of the truth as playing a game of bad sportsmanship. Defense witness Michael Tabb was the facilitator for Monday night’s Anger Management groups. He testifies Steven was in group on November 3, 2003 at 6 p.m. He says Steven wasn’t dishelved, fatigued, or displaying behavior out the norm. He verified the signatures, and puts a mark by the name after collecting the $80 payment for each session. Then, he turns the sign-in sheet to his supervisor Thomas Chapman.
Thomas Chapman speaks highly of Mr. Tabb’s character and professionalism. This evidence must be considered in the light of that happened the day before. Car is abandoned, suspects on foot presumably lost. No phone, no vehicle, fugitives from justice with no idea where they are. A map was found in the car suggesting they were unfamilar with the area. They’re in the woods far from the city they’re accustom to. There are road blocks until at least 4 a.m. They don’t know when the search party would leave. It’s approximately a 10 hour trip from Richmond to Trinity County. Then the trip back. Where would Steven find the time to do all this? Just the travel distance and time would make his arrival time well past 8 p.m. Harper done the math for himself, and what he alleged was it wasn’t Steven who signed in. Reason being is he knows Steven couldn’t have been in group and a part of this crime. Maybe a handwriting expert would examine the signatures and prove what’s been evident from the beginning.
Defense witness Steven Raines was in the pod with Flanagan and was the bearer of good news for the defense. He claims Flanagan told him that Jones across the hall, referring to Steven, was a fall guy. He really had nothing to do with it. Flanagan also boast of having sex with the mother of S. Jones’ twin daughters.
Once Detective Nawrock heard of this bombshell, he threatened Raines with perjury charges. Raines knows Nawrock all to well and says he felt like he had the power to make it appear he was lying and throw him in jail irregardless. Raines stressed, he just had a child and wanted to be in his child’s life. Nawrock’s intimidation tactics clearly had an effect on Raines, causing him to be uneased on the witness stand. He complained about being drug in the court and suckered into testifying. Furthermore, Raines had to still live in Trinity County when the case was over. He had a lot to lose and outside of having a clear conscience, nothing to gain.
Steven Jones Jr. was convicted on May 19, 2006 of 1 count of first degree murder with special circumstances, Penal Code section 187(a), one count of attempted murder, Penal Code section 664/187(a), and one count of second degree robbery, Penal Code 211. He is now serving Life Without the Possibility of Parole in a California State Prison.
Although he is still optimistic on being vindicated someday, the question remains: Did Steven receive a fair trial? Is his conviction a reminder of just how unbalanced the scales of justice are?
“Can you fathom the idea of being jailed, found guilty and sentenced to Life without parole on the basis of speculation, assumption, misinformation and outright lies? I know I can’t, but I’ve been living this nightmare for 14 years now. It’s been a long time coming but I know change is gonna come.”
Currently Steven is striving as an author, stage/screen writer, mentor, youth sports coach, an Entrepreneur in Training, peer facilitator for Defy Ventures, Community Director for M.A.N.U.P, the community barber, all while maintaining a 3.89 GPA at Lassen College. His twin daughters are now 18 years old, graduating with honors and expected to enroll in College for the Fall semester. Support from his Queen Christina, royalty (Nae, Nique, Isaiah, Aniyah), family and a host of artists and political activists proves to be invaluable…
STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAND UP FOR THIS MAN’S FREEDOM!
Steven Jones Jr., F23851
P. O. Box 4000,
Vacaville, CA 95696-4000
1Anne Bowen Poulin, Prosecutiorial Inconsistency, Estoppel, and Due Process: Making the Prosecution Get Its Story Straight, 89 Calif. L.Rev. 1423 (2001). https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1442&context=californialawreview