After seven years behind bars awaiting trial, Richmond man is acquitted of murder and freed

After seven years behind bars awaiting trial, Richmond man is acquitted of murder and freed

MARTINEZ — Anthony Timmons was 18 in December 2015 when police arrested him on charges that he’d aided a Richmond gang member in the killing of a man who was mistaken for a police informant in a 2006 homicide case.

For Timmons, the arrest would mark the beginning of a wait of more than seven years behind bars, which ended May 3 when Timmons was found not guilty of all charges and released later that day. Now in his mid-20s, Timmons is re-entering society as a man with no convictions on his record, despite spending virtually his entire adulthood behind bars.

“I believe he was the Contra Costa jail’s longest resident when he was released,” Timmons’ attorney, Howard Williams, said in a Tuesday interview. “He’s just a victim of the legal morass that kept him there for so long.”

Timmons defense during trial was simple: the August 2015 murder of 66-year-old Carl Roberts was not Timmons’ doing, but the work of his co-defendant, Antoine Saucer, a 41-year-old Richmond native and reputed gang member who was convicted of killing Roberts in 2015. Williams painted Timmons, who was 17 at the time of Roberts’ murder, as a hapless kid who got into a car with Saucer unaware that Saucer planned to eliminate a witness against him for another killing.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Satish Jallepalli, seized on two key facts: Timmons ended up in possession of the murder weapon, and admitted to police that he was present for the shooting. But Williams said both those things were evidence of his salient argument: that Saucer invited Timmons along because he planned to pin the crime on him when police started sniffing around.

“I personally don’t believe it was a gang thing. I think it was an Antoine Saucer thing,” Williams said, later adding, “(Saucer) learned from his mistakes from 2006.”

Saucer’s story is more complex, and involves a ride down the legally complex intersection of mental healthcare and criminal court. Saucer was arrested and charged with in 2006 with murdering Burt Mascarenas, 33, in a shooting on the 600 block of Harbour Way in Richmond. But while awaiting trial in jail, he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and sent to a state hospital in California.

After years of treatment, doctors determined they couldn’t restore Saucer’s mental competency and he was ultimately released back to Richmond, with the murder charge still pending. Then, in 2015, he apparently mistook Roberts for an eyewitness in the Mascarenas killing and resolved to eliminate an eyewitness.

Authorities couldn’t point to a clearcut motive in that killing, though at trial there was evidence that Mascarenas had implied Saucer was a snitch because he was quickly released after an arrest at the time, and that Saucer was offended by the remark.

After Saucer’s subsequent arrest for killing Roberts, he once again petitioned the courts to find him mentally incompetent. But this time, he was ordered to trial. In 2021, a jury convicted him of both murders, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

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