Conviction in the murder of Jamiel Shaw

An undocumented immigrant and known gang member was convicted on Wednesday in the murder of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr.

Pedro Espinoza, 23, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the March 2, 2008 shooting of Shaw, a football star at Los Angeles High School. The jury deliberated for less than four hours before reaching its verdict. It found special circumstances in the killing, which makes Espinoza eligible for the death penalty. On May 15th, the same jury will begin considering whether Espinoza should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“It restores your faith in the justice system” said Jamiel Shaw Sr. outside the court room after the verdict was announced.

Shaw was shot twice near his home in Arlington Heights. Prosecutors allege that Espinoza thought Shaw was a member of the rival Bloods gang because he was carrying a red Spider-Man backpack. At the time of the shooting, Espinoza had just been released from jail and was living in the United States illegally.

The murder of their son turned the Shaw family into anti-immigration activists. They have a website in their campaign for Jamiel’s Law that would allow police to arrest undocumented immigrant gang members and turn them over to federal authorities.

Jury selection begins in trial of slain South LA teen

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

Pedro Espinoza sat silently in court wearing a brown suit, glasses, and sporting a fresh crew-cut. He kept his eyes focused on his lawyers, asking them questions periodically. Directly behind him in the first row, sat the Shaw family. While the defense questioned potential jurors, Jamiel Shaw Sr. watched Espinoza, the man he believes gunned down his son. 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr. was shot March 2, 2008 while he was just three doors away from home.

image“He was a good kid, never been in any trouble, never been arrested, never been suspended from school,” said Shaw.

Espinoza is a member of the 18th Street gang and an undocumented immigrant. He had been released from county jail on gun charges just one day before Shaw was shot. Twenty-three year-old Espinoza now faces the death penalty.

“Even though in California, what’s the odds of having the death penalty?”said Shaw.

The Shaw family has spent the four years between the arrest and the trial trying to get “Jamiel’s Law” on the city ballot. The law would allow police to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants if they have been identified as known gang members. Shaw Sr. says that if this had been in place four years ago, his son might still be alive.

“These are the ones that they need to protect us from. Criminals, killers, murderers, rapists. And they’re not doing it, because if they did, they would have had him because he’s three gun charges in a row, and you didn’t know he was in the country illegally?” said Shaw.

Opponents of Jamiel’s Law argue it could lead to racial profiling. The Jamiel’s Law petition failed to get the signatures needed in 2008 to be placed on the ballot. Shaw Sr. says they will continue to try to make Jamiel’s Law a reality as a way to honor the son who was taken from them too soon.

“MVP three years in a row, all city, getting recruited from Stanford, Rutgers, and a lot of small schools. The kind of kid you’d think would make it. You think he would have made it, but he didn’t of course,” said Shaw.

The juror pool will be cut down to 12 jurors and 6 alternates in the next few days. The trial is expected to take between two and half and four weeks.

OPINION: An open letter to Stephen Colbert

imageJamiel Shaw was a 17-year-old Los Angeles High School student and football player who was shot and killed by gang members on March 2, 2008. Undocumented immigrant Pedro Espinoza, 19, was arrested and charged with Shaw’s murder. He is currently awaiting trial.

Open Letter to Stephen Colbert

By Althea Rae Shaw, penned Sep. 24, 2010. Presented without modification.

Dear Stephen Colbert,

In preparing this open letter to you, I am literally fighting back the tears! It truly breaks my heart that so many people in positions of power and authority continue to make light of illegal immigration!

Are you aware of, and/or concerned with the fact, that American citizens and legal immigrants are murdered everyday by illegal aliens? Have you ever spent one second thinking about that?

In speaking to congress today, do you think you would have prepared anything different if one of your love ones was murdered by an illegal alien? You think you would make fun of this illegal alien invasion if you lost a loved one to this crime?

What if your mother was shot in the head by an illegal alien? Do you think you could make that funny? What about your children? Would it be comical if your daughter or your son or your niece or nephew was lying in the street dead, shot in the head, by someone living in this country illegally?

Here’s a challenge for you Mr. Colbert. I challenge you to visit a memorial plaque in Los Angeles, California. The plaque where my 17 year old nephew, Jamiel Andre’ Shaw II, was murdered on March 2, 2008, by a documented illegal alien gang member.

Minutes after Jamiel hung up the phone with his father Jamiel Sr., Jamiel was shot in the stomach and then shot in the head, three doors from our home. Jamiel’s mother, U.S. Army Sergeant Anita Shaw was serving in Iraq when her son was murdered. Would you like to meet Anita, Mr. Colbert?

I challenge you to visit where Cheryl Green was murdered in Los Angeles. Cheryl Green was 14 years old when she was shot and left for dead by an illegal alien. She was riding her bike across an imaginary line that the illegal alien gang members told each other, “the next black person that crosses this line will die.” Would you like to meet Cheryl’s mother, Charlene Lovett? I’m sure she could use a good laugh!

Maybe walking the streets of Los Angeles are not a challenge you would accept. So, how about Arizona, Mr. Colbert? I challenge you to visit the place where Robert Krentz was murdered by an illegal alien. Robert Krentz was 58. He was a well-liked cattle rancher, working on his 34,000 acre ranch, when he and his dog were shot dead by an illegal alien.

These are just three of the American citizens who I’m sure were not laughing when they were shot and murdered. Unfortunately, we have a long list of names of American citizens who were murdered by illegal aliens. Would you like to see their faces and meet their families?

As a matter of fact, there are tens of thousands of American citizens across the United States of America who were murdered and left for dead by people who were never supposed to be in the USA! Many of these criminals have never been caught!

If you decide to accept this challenge, why not invite about 40 families who lost love ones due to illegal immigration, to come to your studio? Then, you can tell us all about your experience working on this farm. You can even tell us, “how bad your back was hurting when you were working with illegal aliens”. I wonder how many families would laugh and think that’s funny.

To be honest with you, I’m having a very hard time trying to understand why Representative Zoe Lofgren invited you, to speak on this serious issue! Perhaps she too thinks illegal immigration is a laughing matter! She seriously needs to be replaced!!

Call me Mr. Colbert if you accept this challenge, because I know my family would love a good laugh!!


Jamiel Shaw’s Angry Aunt!
Althea Rae Shaw
Los Angeles, CA

“In life, there comes a time when people must stand up for what they believe in”.

Do you think Althea Rae Shaw’s anger is justified? Let us know in the comments box below.

View Stephen Colbert’s statement to congress: