OAKLAND -- The fate of accused killer George Huggins rests largely on a jury's impression of his ex-girlfriend Althea Housley.
And in closing arguments Tuesday in the murder and robbery case against Huggins, 26, the prosecutor and the defense attorney each attempted to steer the seven women and five men of the jury toward an impression that would bolster their respective cases.
Housley, 36, became the key witness in the trial earlier this year after she agreed to a plea deal in which she admitted participating in two robberies of four people in 2010, including one that resulted in a Google applicant being killed.
During the trial, Housley testified that she participated in the robberies with Huggins, who she said brought a gun along and fired it three times at Jinghong Kang, 45, killing the Virginia man as he stood outside his rental car on Webster Street.
Housley's testimony gave deputy District Attorney Tim Wellman crucial evidence in his case against Huggins as she directly linked the man she once considered a soul mate to Kang's murder and the robberies.
Wellman told the jury Tuesday that her statements couldn't be more believable. Details Housley gave to the jury matched other evidence collected in the investigation including testimony from the three victims who were robbed.
"It's not even a close call," Wellman said. "The defendant robbed Mr. Kang of his property and he robbed Mr. Kang of his life."
By testifying against Huggins, Housley won a reprieve from the district attorney's office and escaped a possible lifetime in jail, Beles said.
Under a plea deal that made Housley's testimony possible, the 36-year-old will be given a guaranteed prison release date in 15 years and eight months rather than face a 30-year-to-life sentence.
Beles said that deal coupled with Housley's desire to leave prison to reconnect with her four children convinced Housley to point a finger at Huggins.
"She's no dummy when it comes to saving herself," Beles said. "She knows what she is supposed to do and she wants to do anything to save herself."
None of the victims robbed during two separate robberies in June and July could positively identify either Huggins or Housley and the only two witnesses besides Housley that placed Huggins at the scene is a jailhouse informant and a woman who was seeking a $1,000 reward, Beles said.
"There is no credible evidence in this case to prove George Huggins is connected to these crimes," Beles said. "George Huggins is not the killer in this room."
But not believing Housley would defy common sense, Wellman argued. Wellman asked: Why would a woman who testified that she still loves Huggins point the blame toward him?
Housley initially attempted to deflect blame from Huggins, telling police in two statements that she didn't know him. In addition, Wellman said, testimony from other witnesses in the case back Housley's account of what happened.
Wellman said Huggins' actions after the robberies also point to his guilt. Huggins changed his hair style after allegedly killing Kang and attempted to change his clothing.