Jasper Wu murder suspects now face less prison time, will be parole eligible, DA decides

Both men will still face lengthy prison sentences if they are convicted. But, after Pamela Price's review, they will be eligible for parole within 25 years.

Jasper Wu murder suspects now face less prison time, will be parole eligible, DA decides
Pamela Price at a press conference in March 2023. Emilie Raguso/Aipsasiamedia

Two men charged with the murder of toddler Jasper Wu no longer face the possibility of life in prison without parole after a review of the case by Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price.

Both men will still face substantial sentences if they are one day convicted.

But, due to changes in the charges that Price approved this week, experts say the pair will now be eligible for parole within the next 25 years.

Under the original charges filed by Price's predecessor, Nancy O'Malley, the men would have been ineligible for parole if found guilty.

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Authorities say 23-month-old Jasper Wu was killed by a stray rifle round fired from the car of alleged San Francisco gang members Trevor Green and Ivory Bivens toward gang rivals on I-880 in November 2021.

Their attorneys say authorities got the wrong guys.

Jasper Wu judge holds 2 of 3 suspects on murder charge
The judge said the third man acted in self-defense when he fired back at the shooter whose stray rifle round killed Jasper Wu.

But, after hearing weeks of evidence in the case, an Alameda County Superior Court judge recently ordered Green, 22, and Bivens, 24, to stand trial on murder charges while a third man was held to answer on a lesser offense.

Since then, many community members have been keeping a close eye on the case to see exactly what criminal charges the pair would face as they head to trial.

DA Pamela Price has now dropped "specials" twice

The Jasper Wu case, as filed under O'Malley, included special circumstance allegations that could have sent Green and Bivens to prison for life without parole (LWOP).

In recent months, many people had speculated that Price would drop those allegations in line with her goal of shortening prison sentences, particularly for young offenders.

And that's precisely what happened this week.

DA Price made a similar move in January when she dropped "specials" in the David Misch murder case, definitively taking LWOP and the death penalty (which is already on hold in California) off the table.

Misch, a convicted killer, has been charged with murdering two Fremont women and a 9-year-old Hayward girl in the 1980s.

Suspects still face "big use" gun and gang enhancement

According to the new court papers filed this week, Green and Bivens have been charged with Jasper Wu's murder, the attempted murder of two alleged gang rivals, conspiracy, shooting at an occupied vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal street gang conspiracy.

And, while Price dropped several of the "specials" charged by O'Malley, she retained one of them, which asserts that the freeway shooting was done for the benefit of a gang.

That special allegation is known among prosecutors as the "big use clause" and it carries a sentence of 25 years to life in the case of first- or second-degree murder.

In addition to the indeterminate sentence ("to life"), the other significant aspect of this particular clause is that it means the prosecution does not need to prove who actually pulled the trigger.

That will likely be a key consideration in the Jasper Wu case, which is largely based on circumstantial evidence: The prosecution says a recorded phone call put Bivens in the driver's seat shortly before the shooting — making it unlikely he could have fired an assault rifle that required two hands — but no eyewitness to date has been able to put the gun that killed Jasper into Green's or Bivens' hands.

Price has charged the "big use" clause just two other times since March, when she announced a new vision for her office and pledged to limit the use of "specials," enhancements and allegations in an effort to "bring balance back to sentencing" and reduce recidivism.

Youth offender law likely to come into play

Because of their age and the "specials" Price dropped, Green and Bivens will now be eligible to apply for parole if they are one day convicted of Jasper's murder.

In California, people under 25 who commit murder can petition for parole within 25 years, if not sooner, due to relatively recent changes in state law.

Green, 22, and Bivens, 24, both fall into that category.

The other significant change in charging made this week by Alameda County DA Pamela Price relates to criminal strikes.

The original complaint alleged that Green and Bivens both had one "strike prior": Green for a robbery conviction in 2020 and Bivens for a carjacking conviction in 2015, when he was still a minor.

If a person with a prior strike is convicted of a new felony offense, that automatically doubles the prison sentence.

The new charges include a prior strike only for Green, not for Bivens.

Both men are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning for arraignment on the new charges against them.

Third defendant also saw charges reduced

The third defendant in the case, 28-year-old Johnny Jackson Jr., is also set to appear in court Thursday morning.

Like Green and Bivens, Jackson was originally charged with murder and attempted murder, along with other serious crimes.

Judge Scott Patton dropped most of those charges after the recent preliminary hearing but held Jackson to answer on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as a gang enhancement that could have added 10 years to his prison sentence if found true.

Now that Price has reviewed the case, the gang enhancement is no longer listed: Jackson is charged only with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Price statement makes no mention of parole

Jasper Wu in a strawberry field. Courtesy

Critics of Price's more lenient approach to charging and sentencing said they were pleased this week to see the gang and gun enhancement still included for Green and Bivens.

But they said dropping the "specials" and making the men eligible for parole was "absolutely wrong" given the facts of the case.

In a brief statement to the media Wednesday, Price defended the new charges.

"We will continue to hold these men accountable," Price said in the prepared statement.

She said the charges against Green and Bivens would "likely land them behind bars for the rest of their lives."

Price did not mention how the youth offender law could affect the case and allow for parole within 25 years.

Her office also stated that, if convicted, Bivens faces 265 years to life in prison while Green faces 175 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors told The Scanner those figures did not make sense — given that it is Green, not Bivens, who is facing the strike prior. All the other charges against them are the same.

"Either she mixed up the defendants or her calculations are way off," said one person familiar with the case.

Pamela Price recall effort could kick off in July

The Jasper Wu case has loomed large in Bay Area headlines for months, ever since Jasper's parents came out publicly to express their concerns about Price's vision — which may be at odds with the family's wishes.

Jasper's parents have said they want the young men charged with his murder to face the harshest possible penalties, while Price has said her goal in all but the most exceptional cases in Alameda County is to reduce prison sentences, particularly for "youths between 18 and 25."

Jasper's parents declined through their attorney to comment this week.

Outcry over Jasper Wu ignites push to recall Pamela Price
Jasper was killed in his car seat in 2021 by a stray bullet from a “roving gun battle” on I-880, authorities say. He was just 23 months old.

At a rally in April, 100 or so community members who were concerned about Price's plans protested on the main courthouse steps and demanded her recall.

Since then, many members of the public have continued to call for a recall, but no official campaign has been announced.

An unofficial petition to recall Price has more than 20,000 names but carries no legal weight.

Sources say the official effort to recall Pamela Price may begin in earnest in July.

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