BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Noting the lengthy criminal record of a man convicted of murder in a shooting outside a Union Avenue motel, a prosecutor on Tuesday asked he be given the maximum possible sentence.
John Hardison “is an individual who has led an entire adult life of criminal conduct,” prosecutor Stephanie Ziegler said. She told the court he doesn’t deserve a reduced prison term.
Judge Brian M. McNamara agreed, sentencing Hardison to 25 years to life for the murder of Brian Donte Dickerson, plus 20 years for a gun enhancement and an additional four years for possession of cocaine base for sale. McNamara could have dismissed the gun enhancement.
A jury last month convicted Hardison of each of the five felonies filed against him, including first-degree murder.
On April 10, 2020, Hardison shot Dickerson outside the La Mirage Motel, believing he had stolen a bucket of change from his room the day before, according to the District Attorney’s office Both men were staying at different rooms at the motel.
Hardison waited for Dickerson to leave his room then confronted him, pulled a gun and fired a single round which entered Dickerson’s chest, killing him, according to a DA’s office news release.
At trial, Hardison testified he fired in self-defense, but Ziegler said he never attempted to get Dickerson to back away, instead choosing to fire a “kill shot.” She also said surveillance video shows Hardison lying in waiting near Dickerson’s motel room. He initiated the confrontation, she said.
Hardison’s attorney, Gary Turnbull, argued Dickerson initiated contact, calling Hardison over then moving toward him in a threatening manner despite Hardison warning him to keep away. Turnbull said the shooting occurred amid a “sudden quarrel” and said he believed second-degree murder — which carries a penalty of 15 years to life — would have been an appropriate verdict. He said an appeal will be filed Tuesday afternoon.
Several people were present at the shooting but none reported it, according to the news release. Police were alerted to the gunfire through the city’s ShotSpotter system and viewed surveillance video that captured the incident.
Hardison tried loading Dickerson’s body into his vehicle and asked a witness for help but that person declined, prosecutors said. Hardison eventually gave up and left, walking past arriving officers.
After identifying Hardison as the gunman, police searched his room. They found a gun, more than 30 grams of cocaine, $2,000 in cash and drug paraphernalia.