UPDATE (10/7): The jury on Thursday declined to recommend the death penalty for Hammond and instead decided life without parole was appropriate. Hammond is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 5.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — When the first verdict was read, Darnell Hammond looked toward the ceiling and began to cry. A woman in the audience dropped her head and weeping soon came from her direction.
Any hope Hammond had of being released evaporated as he and co-defendant Jim Langston were found guilty of two counts of murder, robbery and other offenses in the shooting deaths of a father and son who operated a gas station in Lamont.
Additionally, a Kern County jury found the men acted on behalf of the Country Boy Crips street gang. The verdicts were read Tuesday morning before Judge John Oglesby.
The jury will return to court next week to begin the penalty phase for Hammond, 27, who faces the death penalty. Jurors found he fired the fatal shots.
During the penalty phase, jurors will weigh aggravating and mitigating factors and make a recommendation on whether Hammond should be sentenced to death or life without parole.
Langston, 45, is set for sentencing Oct. 20 and faces life in prison. He showed no emotion during the hearing.
Attorneys declined comment until the penalty phase is over. It could last about two weeks.
Heriberto Aceves, 60, and Juan Luis Aceves, 27, were shot dead during the Oct. 14, 2016, robbery at Quality Gas. Autopsies revealed Heriberto Aceves was shot 13 times, Juan Aceves four times.
Surveillance footage played at trial showed masked men entered the store and exchanged fire with Heriberto Aceves. The footage captured the shooting of Aceves and his son.
Hammond was arrested shortly afterward, and DNA evidence linked him and Langston to the crime, prosecutors said.
Langston was seen on surveillance video entering the business about 15 minutes before the robbery occurred. He cashed a payroll check then left.
Three masked men then entered the store, two carrying handguns. They grabbed items and one of them pistol whipped Juan Aceves several times. Heriberto Aceves was then pistol whipped.
Heriberto Aceves pulled a gun and immediately fell, the footage showed. He held the gun up while on his back as a masked man fired multiple shots at him before turning the gun on Juan Aceves.
Authorities said the store may have been targeted because payroll checks were cashed there.