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Lompoc Man Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder

Charles Alonzo Owens

A Superior Court jury on Tuesday found a 26-year-old Lompoc man guilty of first-degree murder in the 2007 death of a rival gang member and a special allegation of intentionally using a firearm.

In addition to murder, the jury found Charles Alonzo Owens guilty of corporal injury to a cohabitant, attempted forcible oral copulation, forcible sodomy, forcible rape, and witness intimidation committed for criminal street gang purposes, according to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

The verdict was read late Tuesday afternoon in the Santa Maria courtroom of Superior Court Judge Rick Brown.

Owens was charged in the June 11, 2007, shooting death of Michael Spradling, 25, who was gunned down in a Lompoc alley and died from the multiple gunshot wounds two days later, Dudley said.

Owens will face life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, who prosecuted the case.

The killing was considered a cold case until Lompoc police detectives reopened the investigation in fall 2011.

Owens was arrested in December 2011, and in May 2012 was arraigned on additional rape, sodomy and other charges after the murder investigation revealed Owens was beating and sexually assaulting his girlfriend, Dudley said.

The cases were consolidated, and the jury trial began Oct. 21.

While in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail, Owens allegedly was assaulted by two custody deputies, who have been charged with assault by a public officer, a felony.

Robert Kirsch, 30, and Christopher Johnson, 28, were arraigned on those charges in August.

On Tuesday, Dudley commended Lompoc detectives, Santa Maria Police Department Gang Detective Scott Casey, and Bramsen for their “outstanding” work on the case, which uncovered sexual assault that likely would have gone unreported.

“As a result of these verdicts, a violent murderer, sex offender and gang member will remain incarcerated for life,” Dudley said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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