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A state appeals court panel Wednesday, Jan. 15 ordered a new sentencing hearing for a man convicted of killing a college football player and wounding two other people in shootings less than 1 1/2 months apart.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered the case against John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 29, to be sent back to a judge in Long Beach as a result of new state legislation that gives judges the discretion on whether to impose gun enhancements.
Kennedy — who lived in Long Beach — was convicted in February 2015 of one count each of second-degree murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle, along with four counts of attempted murder. Jurors also found true a gang allegation against Kennedy, who was sentenced in May 2015 to 173 years to life in state prison.
The first shooting occurred on April 1, 2012, after Kennedy’s brother was killed inside Fantasy Gold Club in Harbor City, according to Deputy District Attorney Rachel Hardiman.
Shee said Kennedy went outside the strip club and began shooting, injuring a woman who was leaving the area with her friends.
The appellate court panel noted in its 25-page ruling that “there is no dispute that Kennedy pulled out a gun and began firing multiple shots outside the club right after his brother was killed.”
On May 13, 2012, Kennedy pulled out a gun and began shooting after a fight broke out at a party in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck area, according to the prosecutor. Ken McRoyal, 22, was killed in that shooting, and another man was wounded.
McRoyal played football at Carson High School and El Camino College in Torrance before going on to the University of Idaho.
Investigators discovered that the bullet casings found at both shooting scenes were from the same gun.
Kennedy made statements about both shootings during wiretapped phone calls involving his gang that were heard by Long Beach police investigators, who installed a tracking device on his car that showed he was at the second crime scene at the time of the shooting, Hardiman said.
The defendant is not related to the famed Kennedy family.