Oakland drug dealer gets 40-to-life for murder conviction 

Convicted cocaine dealer and suspected pimp Ali Omar Polk said in court today that he did what he had to do when he fatally shot 21-year-old Deandrew Smith in East Oakland following a disagreement more than two years ago. Then Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson then did what he had to do and sentenced Polk, 33, to 40 years to life in state prison.

Polk was found guilty of second-degree murder and causing death by using a firearm in the incident on the front porch of Smith's home in the 1400 block of 79th Avenue in Oakland about 5:35 p.m. on June 23, 2005.

Rolefson said Polk and his friends and relatives had sent him "a lot of letters" asking for a lesser sentence and placement in various facilities, but the judge said, "I simply can't do that even if I wanted to do."

Rolefson said "the law is pretty specific," noting the mandatory terms of 15 years to life for second-degree murder and 25 years for using a firearm to cause death. At the end of today's hearing, Rolefson ordered that Polk be sent to San Quentin State Prison to start serving his sentence.

Rolefson also sentenced Polk to two years for being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, but he stayed those two years provided that Polk serves the rest of his lengthy prison term.

Before he was sentenced today, Polk turned toward Smith's girlfriend, who's the mother of Smith's three children, and said, "First off, I feel remorse for the victim."

Polk said he knows the girlfriend's family and "I don't have no grudge" against her.

But in an apparent reference to Smith, Polk said that in the shooting incident "the guy was going to kill me and I had no choice" except to shoot and kill Smith.

Taking the witness stand during his trial in September, Polk testified that he shot Smith in self-defense because Smith and two companions were armed and he thought his life was in danger.

In her closing argument, Polk's lawyer, Annie Beles, said, "We're talking about something that he had to do - it was a non-voluntary action."

But prosecutor David Stein told jurors not to believe Polk's testimony, alleging that it was riddled with inconsistencies.

"It's hard to keep everything straight" when you lie and make up a story, Stein said.

Stein also noted that a prosecution witness testified that Smith wasn't armed during the incident and no one other than Polk and Smith was involved in the incident.

Polk testified that Smith had shot at him in front of his house several days before June 23, 2005, but Stein questioned whether that event ever occurred because it didn't make sense for Polk to return to the same site and not expect to be threatened.

After Polk was convicted, Stein said jurors didn't believe Polk's testimony that he shot Smith in self-defense and that Smith had shot at him several days earlier.

Stein said it's unclear what the disagreement between Smith and Polk that sparked the shooting was about but it might have been about damage that Polk thought that Smith had caused to his Jaguar.

Polk has two prior convictions for selling cocaine and Stein told jurors that witnesses indicated he also was a pimp and had a lavish lifestyle.

— Bay City News

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