OAKLAND, Calif. - The three men accused in the shooting death of a security guard in Oakland no longer face life in prison without parole if convicted, after Alameda County DA Pamela Price, in line with her philosophy, signaled she's throwing out a number of allegations that were filed by her predecessor.
"Ultimately I would like to have justice for Kevin, hat they would have life sentences - and no parole," said Virginia Nishita, widow of slain guard Kevin Nishita, a retired police officer.
But she may not get what she wants.
"We need a district attorney that's gonna be for the people and the victims in all these cases, and that's not what's happening," she said.
Oakland police say Shadihia Mitchell was the gunman. He's in custody, as is Hershel Hale. But the alleged getaway driver, Laron Gilbert, is still at large.
The three were charged last year with special-circumstance murder under former DA Nancy O'Malley. But Price, who took office this year, says the maximum they will now face if convicted is 25 years to life.
In a statement, Price said, in part, "These are very serious charges and they reflect my office’s commitment to punishing those who come to Alameda County to inflict harm on people in our community."
But Price's statement is notable for what it does not say.
The fact that the three no longer face life without parole means she's tossing the special circumstance of murder in the course of an attempted robbery.
Also being dismissed is a gun enhancement for Mitchell, which would have carried an extra 25 years to life, for a total of 50 years to life.
"She's taking all the bullets out of her gun and saying, 'Hey we're not charging any of that,' " said KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza.
The public defender's office, which represents Mitchell, says Price's move means their client isn't the shooter.
"We believe that they're doing the right thing," said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. "The evidence in this case clearly shows that someone else other than Mr. Mitchell was the shooter."
But Cardoza says that may not necessarily be the case.
"When I was prosecuting, we called it the ‘SODDI’ defense - "some other dude did it. Not me. He did it,' " said Cardoza, who is now a criminal defense attorney.
"When you're given a gift by the DA, you back it up and say 'Yeah she's right! What she's doing, drop it all,' " Cardoza said.
Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan