Jury returns first-degree murder conviction, but deadlocks on special circumstances enhancement

By Gary Walker

Following nearly three days of deliberation, a jury in Westchester convicted 23-year-old Cameron Anthony Frazier of first-degree murder for the January 2016 shooting death of 17-year-old Kristine Carman outside Jerry’s Famous Deli in the Marina Marketplace shopping center.

The panel of nine women and three men also convicted Frazier, who committed murder during a drug deal, of associated assault and robbery charges, but they emerged deadlocked on special circumstances allegations of intentionally firing a gun.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano will sentence Frazier on July 26 at the Airport Courthouse in Westchester, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Eugene Hanrahan, who prosecuted the case.

Asked if county prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, Hanrahan replied: “That’s still being decided.”

Kristine Carman, who was in town from Texas to visit older sister Lacey Carman, was in the back seat of her big sister’s SUV when she died from a single gunshot wound to the head on Jan. 6, 2016. Carman was in the car with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, Tyler Odom, when Odom met with Frazier in an attempt to sell Frazier two pounds of marijuana hidden in the vehicle.

Odom, who testified with immunity from drug charges, told jurors that Frazier pulled a gun on him and shot into the car following a brief struggle.

Frazier’s attorney, L.A. County Chief Deputy Public Defender Alan Nakasone, argued in court that the gun went off accidentally and asked jurors not to consider Carman’s murder an intentional act — a distinction especially relevant to the special circumstance allegations, which judges can consider during sentencing.

Hanrahan said the biggest hurdle in prosecuting the case was when Solorzano allowed Nakasone to argue that the gun was fired unintentionally, as Frazier had told police in videotaped statements to LAPD detectives.

Hanrahan wasn’t buying it: “Once [the jury] learned that the defendant was there to commit a robbery, it had the effect that a mistake or accident was not an excuse anymore,” he said.

Police were not able to match the bullet recovered from Carman’s body to parts of a 9mm Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol found where Frazier told police he abandoned his weapon. LAPD detectives did, however, amass evidence tying Frazier to text messages and phone calls with Odom to arrange the drug deal. That led to a search of Frazier’s home in Vista, Calif., where police found a red backpack that Odom testified Frazier was carrying on the night of Carman’s murder, and that backpack also contained two 9mm bullets.

Court testimony did not include Frazier having a prior criminal history, and Hanrahan, who until recently worked in the D.A.’s Hardcore Gang Unit, acknowledged that Frazier was not typical of the defendants he’s used to facing in court.

“I also usually don’t have innocent 17-year-old girls as victims,” he said.