OAKLAND -- Julius Scott was defiant through the end of his murder trial.

The 27-year-old smiled and laughed when he glanced at his family during a sentencing hearing Friday. Scott also shouted at the judge, and at anyone else in the courtroom, as he was led away to serve a lifetime in prison.

When Scott was given an opportunity to address the court and family members of Shanika Latham, 20, who a jury decided he killed, the Oakland native thanked his own family for support.

"He hasn't learned one lesson," said Mallie Latham, Shanika's father. "He has caused a loss and now he has to lose."

Scott was sentenced to 122 years to life in prison for shooting Latham to death in a killing that deputy district attorney Autrey James said was planned and intended for Latham's boyfriend, Lawrence Nero.

Nero, who had purchased drugs from Scott in the past, identified his former drug dealer as the shooter. Nero said he saw Scott walk up to the passenger side of his car, pull his shirt over the bottom of his face and begin firing his handgun into the car.

At least five bullets were fired into the car. Latham, who lived in Alameda, was shot twice in the head and Nero was also shot but managed to drive to Highland Hospital.

Nero's description of the scene matched the scene that was recorded by a corner store surveillance camera. The video from the camera shows a man hiding in the bushes and then walking toward the passenger side of Nero's car. The video does not capture the shooting.


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Although Nero said he was confident that Scott was the shooter, he could not fathom why Scott would want him dead.

The lack of motive and the presence of another felon at the scene were used by Scott's attorney to question if her client was the shooter.

Jo Ann Kingston suggested the shooting was conducted by Pedro Bell on behalf of Donnel Artis, another felon who had an ongoing dispute with Nero. Kingston said her client was used as the bait to bring Nero to the corner of 48th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard just after midnight on Aug. 24, 2012.

The surveillance camera video shows Bell arriving at the scene in his van at the same time as the shooting.

"The most probable and the most certain shooter is not sitting in this courtroom," Kingston said.

Scott testified that Artis wanted to know the next time he was to meet with Nero. Scott did so when Nero called him to set up the drug deal. Scott said that he never made it to Nero's car because he heard gun shots just before he was going to leave his girlfriend's apartment to meet Nero.

The apartment is just a few blocks from the scene of the murder.

Kingston argued on Friday that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright should show some leniency toward Scott because, at the most, he was only an aider and abettor to murder.

Even though an aider and abettor would still face 25 years to life for murder, Kingston argued that a punishment of that length at least gives her client an opportunity to be released in his 60s.

But Cartwright said the jury found that Scott was the shooter when it found true an allegation that Scott personally discharged a firearm causing death.

Cartwright also discounted Scott's testimony.

"Any defendant that says anything in this court denies it. I've never heard anyone get up here and say, 'I did it,'" Cartwright said. "I've been doing this in this courtroom for 12 years with an average of eight to 10 homicides a year and I see the same thing.

"It's really disheartening," Cartwright continued. "They are just street thugs who think they can kill people and get away with it."