Local News

Wednesday, Mar 16 2011 12:16 PM

Man sentenced to life without parole in three gang-related murders

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kerry Dana Hastings, left, listens to his attorney Michael Lukehart during sentencing, Wednesday morning in downtown Bakersfield.

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  2. 2 of 3

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kerry Dana Hastings, left, listens to his attorney Michael Lukehart during sentencing, Wednesday morning in downtown Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 3

    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Annie Cannon, right, is hugged and consoled by her sister-in-law, Sue Alexander, after the sentencing of Kerry Dana Hastings, the man who killed her son, Anthony Daniel. Hastings received a life sentence, Wednesday, without the possibility of parole. Cannon is wearing a shirt with a picture of her son on the front and it says God is good, my baby son.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Kerry Dana Hastings will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering three men in separate gang-related shootings in which the prosecutor said Hastings had no regrets other than to wish, in one instance, that he had killed a higher-ranking rival gang member.

Hastings, a documented member of the East Side Crips, stared ahead and showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman II sentenced him to life without parole. The case involved numerous charges other than the three murder convictions, and it took Twisselman several minutes to read the entire sentence.

Prosecutor Cynthia Zimmer told the judge that Hastings has shown no remorse and instead has bragged about the murders. Regarding one of his victims, he told a cellmate he wished he could have killed a more reputable member of the Country Boy Crips, a rival gang.

"The defendant is a callous, brutal, coldblooded killer," Zimmer said.

Hastings' attorney, Michael Lukehart, said afterward that the sentence is what he expected, and he'll be filing an appeal soon. Relatives of Hastings declined comment.

Relatives of the victims, however, spoke in court about how the murders of their loved ones have changed their lives forever.

Annie Cannon, mother of victim Anthony Daniels, fell to her knees when she first started speaking. A relative stood by and helped support her throughout her statement.

"I have to go to the graveyard to talk to my son, but he doesn't answer me back," Cannon said.

Leon Banks, father of victim Leonard Banks, said the five years that have passed since his son was killed have been tough. Banks said his son was a talented basketball player and a great man who will never have the chance to fulfill his potential.

"I miss my son dearly," Banks said.

Zimmer said outside court that she's grateful for the jury's verdict last month, the witnesses who came forward and testified, and the hard work by law enforcement. The case was the product of a collaborative effort between the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Department.

In November 2009, Hastings and Markisha Ann Williams were indicted on charges of murdering Leonard Banks, 19, in September 2006. Williams has since pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon other than a gun and is serving a five-year prison term.

Hastings has also been convicted of killing Ernest Joe Kerr Jr., 26, in July 2007 and Daniels, 21, in June 2009.

Cannon, Daniels' mother, was wearing a shirt that read, in part, "Justice has been served" on the back.

And while Cannon had trouble standing as she spoke inside the courtroom, she had no such problems after Hastings was sentenced. In fact, she was dancing in the hallway.

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