When Jerry Clark Jr. pulled into his aunt's driveway on a June afternoon in 2011, he still had on his orange work shirt.
Turns out the 45-year-old tree trimmer was wearing the wrong color for that inner northeast Oklahoma City neighborhood and he would pay for it with his life.
As he drove his Cadillac down NE 28, Clark's assailants mistook his orange shirt and orange bandanna for symbols he was a member of the “Hoover” Crips, a rival gang.
“It was the wrong color, I guess,” said Chase Devon Calton, 16, who testified Thursday at the trial of co-defendant Davion Pollard.
Pollard, 18, of Oklahoma City, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 8, 2011, death of Clark.
Gang claimed block
Prosecutors said Clark didn't belong to a gang and didn't have a criminal record. But that didn't matter to members of the “Neighborhood” Crips, who claimed the 2100 block of NE 28.
Clark spent about 25 minutes with his aunt, Mary Mason, before he returned to his car and was ambushed.
Calton testified that he and three co-defendants targeted Clark because he wore a color favored by the “Hoover” Crips and drove a Cadillac.
“I guess they thought he might have money,” Calton said. “We were going to catch him before he got in his car.”
Clothing, colors and tattoos can all be symbols of gang membership. Some gang members are more subtle and use shoe laces, belts or belt buckles to show their gang's colors, Oklahoma City police gang unit Detective Tim Hock said.
Other times they are showier.
“State fairs are prime examples for them to flaunt their colors,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Pollard, a “Neighborhood” gang member, intended to rob Clark with the help of Calton, a gang associate, and “Neighborhood” gang members Tommy Long and Sean Anderson.
Calton said Pollard and Long had handguns. He said the four assailants waited on the side of the aunt's house for Clark, who was in his car before he was approached.
The witness said he waited by the side of the house while Pollard ran to the front of Clark's car and Long ran to the back of the vehicle.
Calton said he heard someone telling Clark to get out of the car followed by gunshots. Clark was shot once in the chest and died at the scene. His car rolled down the driveway and came to rest in a field across the street, his aunt said.
Long, 20, of Oklahoma City, was convicted of first-degree murder in November and was sentenced to life in prison. Anderson, 22, of Edmond, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and received 10 years in prison plus 10 years for violating his probation in an unrelated case.
Calton, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to a murder charge and was sentenced as a youthful offender because he was 14 when Clark was killed. He could be sentenced to prison for life if he fails to complete a treatment program administered by the state Office of Juvenile Affairs.
Clark worked for Asplundh, a nationwide tree-trimming company that clears utility rights of way. The company uses orange for its vehicles and work clothes.