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Local News

Judge Rules Former Allan Hancock College Basketball Players to Be Tried on Murder, Other Charges

A pair of former Allan Hancock College basketball players will be tried on several charges including murder, armed robbery and residential burglary following a preliminary hearing in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Rogelio Flores on Wednesday afternoon found probable cause exists to try Lavell White and Ali Mohammed on the eight counts. The preliminary hearing began Tuesday morning.

The judge ordered both defendants, who remain incarcerated in the Santa Barbara County Jail, to return to court July 6 for arraignment on the charges. 

The men are charged with the fatal shooting of Santa Maria resident Terence Richardson, 23, in a parked car near the intersection of Bradley Road and Jones Street late at night Dec. 30, 2014. 

Investigators say the fatal shooting occurred during a drug buy where the defendants instead tried to rob the dealer, who was the vehicle’s driver, while Richardson sat in the passenger seat. 

The driver raced Richardson to Marian Regional Medical Center, where he died from the gunshot wounds.

Police officers who investigated the homicide testified in court that a former Allan Hancock College football player, Gentry Oden, claimed the defendants robbed drug dealers in prior incidents and burglarized several residences in Santa Maria in the weeks around the shooting.

In one burglary of an apartment at Montiavo at Bradley Square where two Air Force lieutenants lived, the suspects allegedly stole a Macbook Pro laptop, a desktop computer and a gun. 

Under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Tim Covello, investigator Christopher Clement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office said he talked to one of the lieutenants to track down the serial number of the laptop.

During the follow-up investigation, Clement learned a portable DVD player was missing from another apartment that had been burglarized. 

He also said the apartment complex manager mentioned a third burglary that previously had not been reported since no one lived in that unit at the time the door was bashed in by unknown suspects.

The hearing's last witness, Santa Maria police Detective Shawn Fuggs, said one of the stolen computers was found at a Santa Maria pawn shop, and identified as the missing Mac through the serial number. Fuggs is the lead detective on the investigation and also testified Tuesday.

In addition to murder with special allegations, the two defendants will be arraigned on attempted robbery, two counts of second-degree robbery and four counts of first-degree residential burglary. 

White is represented by defense attorney Addison Steele while Mohammed is represented by Lori Pedego. 

The defendants, then 22 and 19 years old, were arrested Jan. 10.

White, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, was a leading scorer for the Bulldogs. He transferred to Hancock over the summer from Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. He attended Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.

Mohammed, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, played power forward for the Bulldogs.

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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