BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A prosecutor presented his opening statement Monday as a double murder trial began in the “senseless deaths” of a father and son who owned and operated a gas station in Lamont.
Darnell Hammond, 27, and Jim Langston, 45, are charged with two counts of murder and robbery, among other charges, in the slayings of the father and son at Quality Gas in 2016. The District Attorney’s office is seeking death for Hammond and life without parole for Langston.
Prosecutor Marcus Cuper asked the jury to find both men guilty for the “tragic and senseless deaths” of Heriberto and Juan Aceves.
The attorneys for Langston and Hammond reserved their opening statements until after the prosecution rests.
Hammond and Langston are accused of entering Quality Gas to rob it then exchanging gunfire with Heriberto Aceves.
Heriberto Aceves, 60, and Juan Luis Aceves, 27, were shot dead. Autopsies revealed Heriberto Aceves was shot 13 times, Juan Aceves four times.
Surveillance footage played for the jury shows three men wearing masks, two of them armed with guns, enter the business the morning of Oct. 14, 2016. Juan Aceves is forced behind the counter by two of the men while the third holds Heriberto at gunpoint.
The men grab items behind the counter. One of them then pistol whips Juan Aceves multiple times. Heriberto Aceves is then pistol-whipped on the back of the head and blood drips onto his shirt.
Heriberto pulls a gun and almost immediately falls. He holds the gun up while on his back as one of the masked men fires at him with a handgun. That man then points the gun at Juan Aceves.
The robbers flee the business. One of them briefly returns and goes behind the counter to where the body of Juan Aceves lies, Cuper said. He leaves again, carrying cash trays.
Hammond was arrested shortly after the robbery, Langston several days later. DNA testing of items found near the scene helped tie them to the killings, Cuper said.
Langston is seen on surveillance video entering the business about 15 minutes before the robbery occurred. He cashed a payroll check then left.
Both Hammond and Langston are alleged members of the Country Boy Crips criminal street gang. Cuper displayed photographs of tattoos on their bodies saying “Country Boy Crips” and abbreviations related to the gang.
The trial is expected to last about two months.