OAKLAND (CBS SF) - An Oakland man was sentenced Friday to the death penalty for murdering three people in a shooting in 2005 and killing a fourth person in 1997.
David Mills, 38, said in a statement read in court by one of his attorneys Friday that he feels sorry for the families of the three people who were killed in the shooting in the 9900 block of St. Elmo Drive a few minutes before midnight on March 10, 2005, but he can't ask for forgiveness and show remorse because he didn't commit what he described as "this horrible crime."
Mills was convicted on June 28 of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of premeditated attempted murder for the 2005 incident.
Prosecutor Jim Meehan said a dispute over a gun led to the shooting and that Mills lured the victims to their deaths by claiming he would be returning the gun.
In addition, Mills was convicted of the special circumstances of committing multiple murders and two counts of animal cruelty because one pit bull was killed in the shooting and another was wounded.
The people killed in the shooting were James Lee Martin, 28, of Hayward, Dale Griffin, 36, of San Pablo, and Rebecca Martinez, 22, of Oakland.
Martinez's sister, Elizabeth Martinez, now 33, was wounded but survived and was the prosecution's star witness in the trial, testifying that Mills was the man who shot her and the other victims.
Mills previously pleaded no contest to killing a fourth person, 28-year-old Troy Gardner, in the 1800 block of 88th Avenue in Oakland at 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1997.
In his closing argument in the penalty phase of Mills' trial, Meehan said Mills "has earned the slow walk through the prison gate that reads 'Condemned Row'" and "has earned his place next to California's worst offenders."
But William Linehan, one of two attorneys who represent Mills, said jurors should spare Mills' life and recommend the lesser punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole because he had a horrible childhood and has been a good father by instructing them not to follow him into a life of crime.
Linehan said Mills "was born into a life of chaos" because his father was a schizophrenic man who couldn't take care of himself and his mother was a drug addict who forced her children to sell drugs in order to support her lifestyle.
Jurors recommended the death penalty for Mills at the end of his penalty phase on Aug. 1.
Mills' death sentence will be automatically appealed.
Mills' case is the first time in three years in which the Alameda County District Attorney's Office sought the death penalty and it is not pursuing the death penalty in any other pending cases.
On Tuesday, California voters will decide the fate of a measure that would ban the death penalty in the state.
After Mills was sentenced Friday, Linehan said, "On Tuesday, for economic reasons, the voters may save his life."
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