Suspect Sentenced in Local Murder Case

A Hercules man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for his role in the murder of an Oakland marijuana grower in Alameda in April 2011.

Charles Kimbrough, of Hercules, was sentenced on Friday, April 3, in Alameda County Superior Court. Kimbrough, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of Oakland native William Adrian Sapp at the Summer House apartment complex at 1826 Poggi St on April 20, 2011.

Kimbrough’s sentence came nearly eight months after his conviction on Aug. 27, 2014. The sentencing was delayed because his lawyers tried and failed to get his conviction reduced from first-degree to second-degree murder. He was scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 31, 2014, on the day of his conviction.

In the 2011 shooting, Kimbrough and an associate, Richard Ezell, were hired by Alameda resident Christopher Donaldson to rob Sapp at the apartment complex. Donaldson, 26, answered a marijuana for sale ad Sapp posted on Craigslist. Sapp grew marijuana legally.

The plan was for Ezell, of Laytonville, to pose as a fake buyer and for Kimbrough, 32, to rob Sapp, according to prosecutor Patrick Moriarty. However, Sapp tried to fight off Kimbrough. Ezell shot and killed Sapp during the tussle with a gun Sapp had produced when the fight broke out.

Donaldson was given 32 years to life, the toughest punishment for the crime, for what Judge Jon Rolefson called "masterminding and orchestrating" the plan to rob Sapp. He was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2014 and sentenced two months later. Ezell took a plea deal, in which he plead to second-degree murder and testified against Donaldson, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in September 2014.

Kimbrough initially agreed to the same plea deal, but when he refused to testify against Donaldson, his deal was thrown out and he was charged with first-degree murder. His lawyers argued that Kimbrough should be found not guilty of murder because nothing was ever taken, the robbery never came to fruition and it was Sapp who produced the weapon. The jurors did not see it that way as he was still found guilty of murder.

Police said Sapp had $1,550 worth of marijuana on him when he was killed. Sapp was 32 years old at the time of his death.

Contact Ekene Ikeme at eikeme@alamedasun.com.