Burglary suspect charged in 2015 killing of aspiring Compton firefighter

A 19-year-old Compton man awaiting trial on burglary charges has been charged with murder in the 2015 shooting death of Marquise Lawrence, 26, a new father and aspiring firefighter.

The defendant, who is black, was charged with murder on May 29 in juvenile court because he was 17-years-old when Lawrence was killed, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Steve Blagg. 

A fitness hearing is scheduled for June 29 in Compton Juvenile Court, Dept. 260, to determine whether the defendant will be tried as an adult, Blagg said. 

Investigators believe Lawrence was going to the market around 5 p.m., on March 18, 2015, driving east on Johnson Avenue in Compton, when he was shot by someone in a dark-colored SUV at South Willowbrook Avenue. 

Lawrence’s car rolled into the cement barriers for the Blue Line railroad tracks, Blagg said. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m. 

Blagg said he and his partner, Sgt. Guillermo Morales, believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. 

“In no way was Mr. Lawrence a gang member. He very much wanted to be a firefighter and was working two jobs at the time,” Blagg said. The defendant “was involved in a gang, and we believe he suspected Mr. Lawrence was a rival gang member. We believe it was a gang-motivated murder.”

In addition to working, Lawrence was also taking classes at El Camino College, studying to become a firefighter. He had played football in high school and a few colleges, but his girlfriend, Karen Lee, said Lawrence had come to see football as a dead end and decided to focus on his longtime passion for firefighting. 

Their daughter was just 7 months old when Lawrence was killed, repeating a family tragedy. Lawrence’s father, Kevin, was shot and killed in South Los Angeles in 1996, when Lawrence was just 7. His killing has never been solved. 

In February 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Marquis Lawrence’s killer, but Blagg said the arrest and charges in the case weren’t based on a single tipster. “We were able to identify a suspect through followup investigation and multiple interviews,” he said.

At the time of his arrest on May 26, the defendant was awaiting trial with two others for multiple counts of residential burglary in Pasadena in April 2016. 

Blagg said investigators don’t know if anyone else was involved in Lawrence’s shooting. “This is the only arrest we expect in this case at present,” he said, “but if we develop other suspects, we’ll definitely look into that.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

A 19-year-old Compton man awaiting trial on burglary charges has been charged with murder in the 2015 shooting death of Marquise Lawrence, 26, a new father and aspiring firefighter.

The defendant, who is black, was charged with murder on May 29 in juvenile court because he was 17-years-old when Lawrence was killed, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Steve Blagg. 

A fitness hearing is scheduled for June 29 in Compton Juvenile Court, Dept. 260, to determine whether the defendant will be tried as an adult, Blagg said. 

Investigators believe Lawrence was going to the market around 5 p.m., on March 18, 2015, driving east on Johnson Avenue in Compton, when he was shot by someone in a dark-colored SUV at South Willowbrook Avenue. 

Lawrence’s car rolled into the cement barriers for the Blue Line railroad tracks, Blagg said. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m. 

Blagg said he and his partner, Sgt. Guillermo Morales, believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. 

“In no way was Mr. Lawrence a gang member. He very much wanted to be a firefighter and was working two jobs at the time,” Blagg said. The defendant “was involved in a gang, and we believe he suspected Mr. Lawrence was a rival gang member. We believe it was a gang-motivated murder.”

In addition to working, Lawrence was also taking classes at El Camino College, studying to become a firefighter. He had played football in high school and a few colleges, but his girlfriend, Karen Lee, said Lawrence had come to see football as a dead end and decided to focus on his longtime passion for firefighting. 

Their daughter was just 7 months old when Lawrence was killed, repeating a family tragedy. Lawrence’s father, Kevin, was shot and killed in South Los Angeles in 1996, when Lawrence was just 7. His killing has never been solved. 

In February 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Marquis Lawrence's killer, but Blagg said the arrest and charges in the case weren't based on a single tipster. "We were able to identify a suspect through followup investigation and multiple interviews," he said.

At the time of his arrest on May 26, the defendant was awaiting trial with two others for multiple counts of residential burglary in Pasadena in April 2016. 

Blagg said investigators don’t know if anyone else was involved in Lawrence’s shooting. “This is the only arrest we expect in this case at present,” he said, “but if we develop other suspects, we’ll definitely look into that.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

from http://homicide.latimes.com

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