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Shooter Gets Life Sentence in Gang Murder That Put Fresno on Edge



Jerel Stanfield, 34, of Fresno, received 85 years to life for the murder of rival gang member William Simpson in 2013. (Shutterstock)
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Judge Jonathan Conklin sentenced a convicted murderer in one of Fresno’s most notorious gangland slayings to 85 years to life in prison on Tuesday.

Jerel Stanfield, 34, of Fresno, received the sentence after a Fresno County jury found him guilty of shooting to death a rival gang member, William Simpson, in 2013.

Stanfield’s attorney, Kevin Little, told The Fresno Bee that he would appeal the conviction on grounds of alleged juror misconduct and a witness outburst Little said was prejudicial to his client.

The weeks-long trial wrapped up on Feb. 15. The jury deliberated about 12 hours over three days before reaching its verdict, according to Fresno Spotlight.

Convicted Murderer Claims He Was Framed

Stanfield previously stood trial for Simpson’s homicide in 2017, but the jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. Stanfield, a previously convicted felon, claims that police framed him for a murder he didn’t do by planting the homicide weapon on him.

Just as he did in 2017, Fresno County Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gularte led the prosecution’s case against Stanfield.

Evidence presented at the second trial identified to the jury’s satisfaction that Stanfield killed Simpson in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday 10 years ago for wearing a hat with the letter “P” on it. The murder took place at a townhouse in the 4100 block of North Clark Street near Highway 41 and Ashlan Avenue.

Stanfield belonged to the Strother Boys criminal street gang while Simpson was a Dog Pound member, police testified at trial.

Later that day, officers located Stanfield, who tried to flee in his car. However, police disabled Stanfield’s vehicle and he was shot by officers while reaching toward his waistband, according to trial testimony. The .40 caliber murder weapon was then found on Stanfield, police testified.

A City on Edge

Veteran courts reporter Pablo Lopez of Fresno Spotlight noted that “Stanfield’s shooting (by police) later led to a street protest and threats against officers, prompting then Police Chief Jerry Dyer to order a citywide crackdown on gangs. Dyer also ordered officers to pair up in patrol vehicles and have motorcycle cops use patrol cars.”

In a news release, the DA’s office thanked Fresno Police Lt. Andre Benson “for his tireless efforts to see that justice was served.”

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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