Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2007
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Media News Group
Author: Terry VAU Dell, Staff Writer
Note: Does not print letters from outside circulation area


OROVILLE -- A pastor said Wednesday that some members of the Oroville
community believe a Bay Area man charged with capital murder in an
aborted drug deal that left three people dead is being treated unjustly.

"All we're asking for is that the arm of justice swing evenly for
everyone involved," said Pastor Kevin Thompson of the No. 1 Church of

The Oroville pastor said Deandre Tyrone Lowe, 38, who is black, should
be charged the same as three white Oroville-area men, who were
previously convicted of lesser drug charges in the case. The pastor
said after talking with Lowe in the county jail and members of the
community, he plans to air his concerns about how the case is being
prosecuted with District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Ramsey defended his decision to file capital murder charges against
Lowe based on evidence indicating the man was part of an alleged plan
to rob four marijuana sellers at gunpoint during a meeting at an
Oroville motel last Oct. 22.

The drug deal ended in an exchange of gunfire inside the motel room,
killing two of the would-be buyers from the and a seller.

The three other sellers, subsequently pleaded guilty to drug-related
charges and two were sentenced to identical four-year prison terms.
Because he had represented one of the drug suspects, Chico attorney
Jodea Foster told Superior Court Judge James Reilley Wednesday he
could not accept an appointment to defend Lowe. Lowe, who surrendered
to authorities in Seattle this month, is due back in court today with his
newly-appointed attorney, Philip Heithecker.

Though prosecutors concede Lowe did not fire any shots during the
aborted drug deal, he remains held without bail on two counts of
capital murder under a state law that holds accomplices liable for
deaths that occur during certain serious crimes, including robbery.

Ramsey said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty for
Lowe or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Because
there would have been no shootout had the Oroville men not cultivated
or tried to sell marijuana, the pastor feels they should have faced
the same charge as Lowe. "The community believes that there is a
disparity in the charges that are being brought," the Oroville pastor
outside of court Wednesday.

"If Mr. Lowe is being charged as a principal, we believe those other
defendants should have been charged as a principal also," he said.

"If this goes the way it appears to be going, it will not only set
this town back 100 years, it will also set humanity back," added the
Oroville pastor.

Ramsey said that under the law, he could not charge the three
surviving pot sellers with murder because sale of marijuana is not "an
inherently dangerous offense" covered by the so-called "felony murder
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