Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: There was an incident back in the early '90s -- I believe one of the perpetrators was named Mario Lawson. What was the outcome of this case?
Submitted by: Natasha, Sacramento
ANSWER: Mario Lawson was one of three men convicted of murder in the shooting death of 23-year-old Richard D. Harper in September 1993.
Lawson, along with Jacoby Felix and Ellis Curtis, were sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
According to stories in The Bee, Harper, a Desert Storm Marine veteran, was leaving his house on San Jose Way near Eighth Avenue to get some food when a masked man with a gun approached his car and demanded his keys. Harper left his keys in the ignition and took off running.
The prosecutor said Felix and Curtis gave chase and fired at Harper as he ran down the street. Harper died from a bullet in the back of the head.
Witnesses testified that the three men planned to rob Harper to steal marijuana they believed he had hidden in the trunk of his car.
Although Lawson's role was that of a "lookout," the judge said that Lawson decided to participate in an act so dangerous that its consequences called for "serious punishment."
Lawson, now 37, is at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione. Felix, 37, and Curtis, 36, are at California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom.
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