Friday, November 20, 2009

Kern County Grand jury indicts pair for three murders

BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer | Thursday, Nov 19 2009 05:57 PM

Last Updated Thursday, Nov 19 2009 05:57 PM

A man and woman were face charges in the gang-related shooting deaths of three men dating back to 2006.

In an unusual step, the District Attorney's staff went to the Kern County Grand Jury to issue an indictment.

That process avoids the need for a preliminary hearing where defense attorneys can ask questions.

Prosecutors have typically used the grand jury process on lengthy cases.

It still took nine days to present the evidence to the grand jury, prosecutor Cynthia Zimmer said.

Kerry Hastings Jr., 23, and Markisha Ann Williams, 24, were indicted on charges of murdering 19-year-old Leonard Banks in September 2006, Bakersfield police reported.

Banks, who Zimmer said was not a gang member, was a football and basketball player at Golden Valley High School.

He and his father, then 56-year-old Leon Banks, were shot at their home where it's believed the suspects wanted to obtain marijuana that was grown there, police said.

The father survived his wounds.

Hastings was also indicted on murder charges in the July, 2007, shooting death of Ernest Joe Kerr Jr., 26, in the 1200 block of Cottonwood Road.

Kerr was also not a gang member, Zimmer said.

Kerr and two other men were walking on Cottonwood Road at about 1:30 a.m. when men who came from an apartment complex in the 1200 block of Cheatham Avenue began shooting at them, sheriff's deputies reported.

Kerr was the only one hit by gunfire, deputies said.

The third killing for which Hastings was indicted was the June 2009, shooting death of 21-year-old Anthony Daniels in the 1300 block of Reese Avenue, police reported.

Daniels was struck by multiple bullets at about 1 a.m., sheriff's deputies reported.

Hastings and Williams were already in jail on other charges when the indictment was issued this week, police said.

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