Man convicted of three murders could face death penalty

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who went on a violent two-year crime spree,
which included the murders of two people during a 2005 home-invasion robbery in
Valencia Park and the 2007 slaying of a man and the wounding of his girlfriend,
was convicted Wednesday of felony charges that could lead to the death penalty.

After five days of deliberations, a jury convicted 36-year-old Michael
Baraka Mason of three counts of first-degree murder and special circumstance
allegations of murder during a robbery and multiple murders. Jurors also found
the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang.

Mason was also convicted of attempted robbery, burglary, false
imprisonment and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Next week, a second
phase of trial will get under way to determine if Mason will face the death
penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna told the jury that Mason was
one of several masked robbers who burst into a home on Nov. 25, 2005, and held
five people hostage before shooting 31-year-old Meico McGhee and 25-year-old
Sacha Newbern. The victims — who were put into a bathtub before being shot at
close range — died at a hospital the next day.

One of the surviving hostages said, “I was afraid my life was going to
end that day,” Campagna said in his closing argument.

The prosecutor said Mason “chose to execute” the victims and “chose”
to flee. He was caught in Las Vegas in November 2007 after being featured on
“America's Most Wanted.”

“The running and hiding was finally over,” the prosecutor told the jury.

Mason left DNA and other evidence behind that exposed him “as the
multiple murderer that he is,” Campagna said.

Mason was also convicted of murder and attempted murder in the July 14,
2007, shooting death of 30-year-old Tim Traaen and the wounding of his
girlfriend during an attempted armed robbery in Normal Heights.

Police said Traaen and his girlfriend had just left a bar and were about
to get into their car on Suncrest Drive when a gunman approached and demanded
money just after midnight.

Another defendant, Tamoyia Morris, faces a retrial on the 2005 murders
after a jury deadlocked on those charges.

Categories: KUSI