Desmen Lankford

Desmen Lankford, 27, who was convicted in September of the murder of two East Bay men, was sentenced on Nov. 10 to life in prison without parole.

The shootings of Kevin Antoine Parker, 42, of Oakland and Kelvin Earl Davis, 26, of Berkeley in front of 1436 Derby St. on Sept. 18, 2008, was the result of a gang war, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney James Sheehan.

Lankford was a member of The Cold Gunnaz, a North Oakland gang that had been involved in a feud with a south Berkeley gang since 2003. Lankford had a dispute with Davis’s twin brother, Melvin, but, when he couldn’t find Melvin Davis, he shot Kelvin Davis instead, according to Sheehan. Parker had just sold Kelvin Davis a car and the two were standing outside the apartment building when Lankford opened fire.

“It can be simply surmised that he is a cold-blooded killer,” Alameda County Deputy Probation Officer Karen Lee said in a sentencing report, adding that he had never expressed any remorse, according to

During the trial, the prosecution presented letters written by Lankford seeking to have a key witness killed and encouraging his cousin to lie under oath, according to the District Attorney’s office. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department also recorded phone calls from jail in which Lankford incriminated himself.

Sheehan also introduced into evidence graffiti that Lankford had written on the walls of three jail cells at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. The graffiti identified a former cellmate that was cooperating with the prosecution as a “snitch,” which suggested Lankford was trying to prevent testimony against him.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...