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Venice Gangsters Jailed for Virgina Park Murder

Patrick Dwight Birdsong Jr., Sean Alex Mermer, Taaj Zakee Martin, and Norman Lovan Cole received sentences ranging from 50 to 90 years for the murder of an Olympic High grad in 2009.

This story was originally published 9 p.m. Feb. 29. It was updated with new information March 1.

Four alleged gangsters convicted of gunning down a young alumnus of a local high school at a bus stop near in 2009 have been sentenced for the murder.

Patrick Dwight Birdsong Jr., Sean Alex Mermer, Taaj Zakee Martin, and Norman Lovan Cole received sentences ranging from 50 to 90 years for the Nov. 3, 2009 slaying of Richard Manuel Juarez.

The 20-year-old victim was with three  students, when at about 8:30 p.m., Birdsong and Martin approached from Pico Boulevard and opened fire. Juarez's three friends escaped without injury, according to published reports.

Police said the gunmen fled toward a getaway car manned by two accomplices, later identified as Mermer and Cole. All four were arrested that night after an officer heard the gunshots and saw the assailants running.

Mermer drove the pair to the scene and Cole was the front-seat passenger. The defendants are members of the Venice Shoreline Crips, Los Angeles County District Attorney spokeswoman Shiara Dávila-Morales said.

The four men were convicted of one count each of first-degree murder and attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated murder. Birdsong, Martin and Cole also were convicted of a single count of street terrorism according to the D.A.'s office.

Martin, 20; Cole, 36; and Mermer, 31; were sentenced Feb. 21. Birdsong, 21, was the last defendant to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Birdsong and Martin each got 90 years in prison while Mermer and Cole received 50-year sentences, according to Lewis.

Juarez graduated from Olympic High School. Shortly after his murder, a teacher there told the Santa Monica Daily Press that he was an avid drawer and a loyal friend with a big smile.

The shooting happened within hours of another slaying of a young man in Venice's Oakwood neighborhood.


Correction:
an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the date of the shooting.

Additional details about the case will be posted as they become available.

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hello world March 14, 2012 at 05:00 AM
The truth of the matter is, is that if you dont know the entire story then justice was only partially served!
GrETa Job March 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM
The truth of the matter is that my cousin is dead because of the ignorance of thugs and street gangs. This young, handsome, innocent boy with his entire future brfore him....gone, in the blink of an eye, just like his cousins before him. Why? Because fools think it's cool to pick up guns and shoot and murder? You know what's really cool??? EDUCATION, JOBS, AND EARNING AN HONEST LIVING AND WORKING HARD FOR WHAT YOU HAVE NOT TAKING IT FROM OTHERS...INCLUDING THEIR LIVES! Nowadays, cowards pick up hand guns, point and shoot without even knowing who they are shooting at and innocent people get murdered. Ignorance at its finest. People with this mentality are a total and complete waste. Either way, my tax payer dollars must pay for their care...either in prison or on welfare...how's that for fair? Oh and I do agree that justice was only partially served...they all should have received life without parole...or better yet, how about they all get lined up in a row in front of the victim's father (his only child murdered) and let him have his day of vengeance on them???...and unless you were there too...then you likely don't know the whole story either...only what you have heard ...and if you think for one second that murderers are honest...then you are sadly mistaken...!!!
sherese birdsong March 24, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Free my brother Patrick birdsong.
sherese birdsong March 24, 2012 at 05:39 AM
All y'all could say what y'all want but know God is the only one that have the last word. Y'all might think hell gone but y'all font know!!!!__
sheriffs department February 11, 2013 at 07:24 AM
I honestly think they got what they deserve, I know norman cole personally and he has been in and out of jail all his life even as a youth. One thing we knew being from Venice is you never did anything in Santa Monica cause you will gets caught. Now they got caught. They took a young life, and now their young lives are gone. Nobody's a winner out of thisand for what a city,

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