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Defense Attorneys Home in on Witnesses’ Differing Stories In Athletes’ Murder Trial

Former basketball players Ali Mohammed and Lavell White are accused of fatal shooting Terence Richardson near community college campus

Defendant Lavell White sits in a Lompoc courtroom where he is on trial for murder, robbery and burglary stemming from crimes in late 2014, including the fatal shooting of Terence Richardson, 23. Click to view larger
Defendant Lavell White sits in a Lompoc courtroom where he is on trial for murder, robbery and burglary stemming from crimes in late 2014, including the fatal shooting of Terence Richardson, 23. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Another former Allan Hancock College football athlete testified Monday in the trial of two former basketball players charged with murder, robbery and burglary, as defense attorneys quizzed prosecution witnesses about the changing stories.

Lavell White, 25, and Ali Mohammed, 22, have been charged with murder in connection with the Dec. 30, 2014, shooting of Terence Richardson, 23, in a vehicle near the corner of Bradley Road and Jones Street.

Mohammed is accused of delivering the lone shot that struck Richardson as he sat in a vehicle during a drug deal.

White is accused of being the mastermind behind the men’s burglaries of residences and robberies of marijuana dealers in the weeks before Richardson’s death. 

Richardson was sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a man who had arranged to sell marijuana to the athletes. 

On Monday in the jury trial before Judge James Voysey, former Hancock athlete Lavelle Griffin told about participating in two residential burglaries with the defendants along with another man, Gentry Oden, who testified last week.

Griffin had left Santa Maria in early December 2014. He intended to return but did not because of the fatal shooting, he said.

Defense attorney Michael Scott, White’s attorney, asked Griffin several questions about not telling the truth regarding a police investigators questions about the burglaries,

“Do you remember telling the officer you lied because you were afraid the murder would  be pinned on you?” Scott asked. 

Griffin answered yes. 

Scott also asked Griffin about telling police all four men entered the Montiavo Apartments unit burglarized in November 2014. 

Defendant Ali Mohammed sits in a Lompoc courtroom where he is on trial for murder, robbery and burglary in connection with the death of Terence Richardson, 23, in December 2014. Mohammed’s co-defendant is Lavell White. Both men were Alllan Hancock College basketball players at the time of the shooting. Click to view larger
Defendant Ali Mohammed sits in a Lompoc courtroom where he is on trial for murder, robbery and burglary in connection with the death of Terence Richardson, 23, in December 2014. Mohammed’s co-defendant is Lavell White. Both men were Alllan Hancock College basketball players at the time of the shooting. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“Was that the truth — did all four of you enter into the Montiavo apartment during that burglary?” Scott asked. 

“I don’t remember,” Griffin said. 

“In March of last year you remember Oden going in, in March of this year you don’t remember Oden going in. Is that correct?” Scott asked as Griffin replied yes.

When he was on the witness stand, Oden testified only two men entered while two others remained outside to served as lookouts.

Later, defense attorney Lori Pedego, who represents Mohammed, asked why Griffin could not remember details surrounding the burglaries.

“So would you say it’s a pretty memorable event in your life to participate in two different home burglaries?” Pedego asked. 

Griffin blamed his faulty memory on the fact he suffered a concussion while playing football.

The day’s second witness, Kenneth Butler, testified about interactions he had with White regarding a 9-mm weapon believed to have been stolen from Montiavo Apartments and used in in the fatal shooting. 

Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch asked Butler about a series of text messages, reportedly from White, who offered to sell a “9-mm Smith” for “325 or something like that.”

But Butler declined despite White saying “It’s fresh 9-mm bro.”

“Does that mean it’s clean, never been used?” Savrnoch asked the witness.

“Yeah,” Butler said.

While the first texts were sent Dec. 27, during another round of texts on Jan. 4 — after the Dec. 30 fatal shooting — offered a “thing for sale” with the price then $125.

“Is it fair to say that once a gun is hot, it’s been used, it’s not worth as much, correct?” Savrnoch asked.

“I don’t know,” Butler said.

Testimony in the trial, which is expected to run through March, will continue Tuesday morning. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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