OAKLAND -- A couple accused of killing a man during a botched robbery attempt in East Oakland must stand trial for special circumstances murder, a judge ruled Thursday.

Gequesha Nolan, 22, and Marcus Ward, 22, could face life in prison without the possibility for parole if both are found guilty of killing Michael Schenk, 31, during a robbery attempt. Schenk was fatally shot in a scheme during which Nolan is accused of luring him to 7105 Favor St., where Ward is accused of killing him.

Ward, Nolan and another woman, Lashay Goulding, who was arrested but never charged with a crime, allegedly hatched a plan about four hours before the killing to lure Schenk to Favor Street, where Ward and two other men who have never been identified would rob him, evidence during the preliminary hearing revealed.

Nolan and Goulding admitted being prostitutes, and evidence showed they asked Schenk, who one witness said was a pimp, for a ride to Favor Street, where Goulding pretended to have a customer waiting for her.

Before getting to the scene, Nolan was dropped off at another location to conduct business, but Goulding stayed in the car with Schenk and his companion.

Once at the scene of the murder, Ward and two other men approached the car, and Ward pulled out a gun, at which point Schenk tried to drive away but was shot dead instead, evidence showed.

Ward admitted during a police interrogation that he killed Schenk while trying to "take his rings." Nolan admitted, during a police interrogation, that she helped set up the robbery but said she had no idea it would result in murder.


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Nolan's attorney, Anne Beles, argued that her client should not be charged with murder because she simply set up the robbery without knowledge that her boyfriend, Ward, would end up killing Schenk.

But Alameda County Superior Court Allan Hymer ruled that Nolan had enough knowledge about Ward to know that the robbery could go bad and result in murder.

Hymer said Nolan knew Ward had access to guns and pointed to Nolan's interrogation with police, during which she said she knew robberies could sometimes go bad if the victim does not cooperate.

Nevertheless, Hymer said the special circumstances case against Nolan was weak.

"I think it is a close issue ... as to whether or not she knew that her conduct involved great risk of death," Hymer said.

Both defendants are due back in court Nov. 16.

Deputy district attorney Venus Johnson, who handled the preliminary hearing, declined to comment as to why Goulding has not been charged with a crime.