LONG BEACH - After nearly two full days of deliberation a jury on Thursday found a Long Beach man guilty of manslaughter and using a gun in the commission of a crime in the 2008 shooting death of another local man outside a Belmont Shore bar.
Stanley Park showed no emotion after he was declared not guilty of murder, but then found guilty of the lesser charge. Park could face anywhere from six years to 21 years when he returns for sentencing on April 22 in Superior Court Judge Jesse Rodriguez's courtroom.
When the guilty verdict was read by the court clerk, several members of Park's family broke into tears, while the family of shooting victim Michael Martoni showed no reaction.
It was never disputed that Park shot Martoni during a fight near closing time outside Yankee Doodles, 4100 E. Ocean Blvd.
The question was whether it was murder, as the prosecution argued, self-defense, as Park and his team contended, or a crime in the heat of passion, as the jury ultimately decided.
Few in the court, it seemed, were fully satisfied with the verdict.
After being dismissed from duty, several members of the jury remained in the hallway. Several shed tears and hugged and cried with Park's family as they explained their decision. They also talked to members of the Martoni family.
Martoni's father angrily cursed the decision and walked away.
A red-eyed jury foreman, Patrick Dolly, said the decision was very emotional and difficult for the jury of six men and six women, and at times it seemed the group might not reach a consensus.
"It's difficult to judge 10 seconds of someone's life," Dolly said, referring to the short-lived fight between Park and Martoni. "I thought maybe we'd be hung, but as this progressed we looked a little harder at the evidence."
Dolly said for a while the jury was locked at 10-2 to convict before it came up with the decision on the lesser count.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Schreiner was also stunned by the verdict. In the first trial, also prosecuted by Schreiner, the jury deadlocked at 11-1 and could not come up with a verdict.
"I'm very disappointed," Schreiner said. "It's very difficult to understand, unless it was some kind of compromise."
The prosecution had argued throughout that Park instigated the fight with a very drunk and unarmed Martoni, knowing he had a loaded gun as his backup. Schreiner added not only did Park shoot Martoni after the attack had ended, but that after knocking Martoni down with one bullet, he walked up and put another shot in the victim's head as he was down on the pavement and defenseless.
"Our victim threw a punch," Schreiner said. "After that it was an out- and-out murder. I cannot fathom any other decision."
Tom Wirtz, one of two attorneys to represent Park, had gone into the final day confident his client would prevail.
He too wept outside the courtroom as he talked to the jury and Park's family.
Wirtz had argued that Park was terrified when Martoni attacked him unprovoked and nearly knocked him out with a punch to the head. The defense also said Martoni was a "raging bull," continued to attack Park even after he saw the gun and still after the first shot.
"This is the most unfair trial I have every been a part of," Wirtz said. "I'll just leave it at that."
Park remains in jail on $4million bail as he awaits his sentence. Schreiner said the judge has the latitude to give sentences of three, six or 11 years on the manslaughter conviction and an added three, four or 10 years on the gun enhancement.