Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Dupree Glass

Other Los Angeles County, California exonerations
On the night of January 2, 2004, 17-year-old Dupree Glass and 18-year-old Juan Rayford, friends and high school classmates in Lancaster, California, attended a party. Others present included 15-year-old Donisha Williams, her 21-year-old sister, Shadonna Williams, and their cousin, 17-year-old Perry Thompson.

During the party, Glass got into an argument with Perry, prompting Shadonna, Donisha, and Perry to leave. Shadonna and Donisha dropped Perry off at Perry’s grandmother’s home and then went home, where they lived with another sister, Shontel, and their 40-year-old mother, Sheila Lair. Glass was familiar with the family – he often came over for meals, sometimes with Rayford, and was considered a part of the family.

Not long after, Glass called Donisha on his mobile walkie-talkie phone and asked where Perry was because he wanted to fight with Perry. Donisha said Perry wasn’t there, they had dropped him off at his grandmother’s home. Glass did not believe her. Donisha invited him to come over and check.

At 1 a.m. on January 3, Glass arrived with Rayford. Several other cars arrived as well. Donisha woke her mother, Sheila and reported that Glass and some friends had arrived to “catch a fade,” slang for fistfight with Perry.

Sheila went outside, followed by some of the children as well as others who were in the home that night. They included Sheila’s 38-year-old sister, Kimberly Lair; three neighbors, Darrel and Ebony Howard and Terry Watson, and several of Sheila Lair’s nieces and nephews, including Jasmin Thompson, Jerterry Burns, Donte Burns, and Jermain Cooper.

Glass, Rayford, and about 20 of their friends, including Douglas Bland, who was known as “Phat Man,” were gathered outside. Sheila stood in the middle of the yard and told Glass that Perry was not there. Suddenly, a fistfight broke out, and then shots were fired. Bland was seen shooting, and other shots came from the side of the yard opposite where Bland was standing.

Kimberly Lair, who was inside the house, suffered a graze wound. Terry Watson was wounded in the leg, though only superficially.

Everyone scattered and police were called.

About 45 minutes after the shooting, Kimberly Lair called Glass and asked why he had fired at their house, explaining she was injured. She claimed that Glass responded, “That's what you bitches get.”

The following day, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Ed Anderson investigated the crime scene and determined that eight bullets struck the house. Four were fired from east to west, and four were fired from south to north. The bullet that grazed Kimberly's back traveled east to west, striking “the fascia board above the front window,” then traveled through the second floor east bedroom where it was “deflected” by the bedroom's bunk bed, penetrating seven walls before reaching Kimberly in the second floor west bedroom.

Anderson concluded that a second bullet traveled east to west through the wooden frame of the front living room window, striking the interior ballast above the front door. A third bullet from the same direction struck the wooden molding to the east exterior wall at the main entrance. A fourth bullet traveled east to west and struck the exterior wall to the west of the front door.

A fifth bullet traveled south to north and pierced the glass in the front living room window, striking the north dining room wall inside. A sixth bullet from the same direction struck the exterior wall at the main entrance 30 inches above the ground and entered the house. Another south-to-north bullet traveled through the front exterior wall into the living room wall about 47 inches above the ground. A fourth struck the exterior wall just west of the main entrance about 74 inches above the ground.

Although Anderson determined the gunfire originated from two general directions, he could not determine the number of shooters. Ultimately, at trial, he opined the northerly fire could have been consistent with two shooters firing from south to north.

On January 13, 2004, Glass and Rayford were arrested.

At a preliminary hearing, Donisha testified and said she saw Glass and Rayford fire handguns, although she said Rayford fired into the air. Sheila Lair testified that she saw Glass fire a gun. She said that she saw a flash in the direction where she had seen Rayford, but did not see him fire a gun.

On March 25, 2005, Glass and Rayford were charged with 11 counts of attempted murder and firing a weapon into an inhabited building. They were accused of firing guns from the south to the north. The 11 victims named in the 11 counts were Donisha and Shadonna Williams, Sheila and Kimberly Lair, as well as Jasmin Thompson, Terry Watson, Darrel Edwards, Ebony Edwards, Jerterry Burns, Donte Burns, and Jermain Cooper.

In September 2004, Glass and Rayford went to trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Donisha again identified both men as firing weapons. At first, Sheila testified consistently with her preliminary hearing testimony that did not specifically identify Rayford as one of the gunmen.

However, the prosecutor then confronted Sheila with a transcription of a video interview with police. That transcription had not been disclosed to the defense before the trial. The document was the subject of a hearing outside the presence of the jury during which the trial judge asked the prosecutor what Sheila had said at the preliminary hearing.

The prosecutor said, incorrectly, “I believe she said he was shooting.” Based on the false representation, the judge allowed the prosecutor to confront Sheila with the statement. Because the defense did not object to the untimely disclosure, the prosecutor successfully avoided having to present the preliminary hearing transcript. The transcript would have revealed that the prosecutor’s assertion was false.

Deputy Anderson testified to his conclusions about the bullets and that, based on his analysis, it was possible that the south to north bullets were fired by two gunmen.

A gang expert, Detective Steven Gross, testified Rayford was an admitted member of a criminal street gang known as “Bad Influence Gang,” and Glass was an admitted member of a criminal street gang known as “Dime Block.” He said Bad Influence Gang and Dime Block were not rival gangs. Dime Block was the smaller of the two gangs, and it claimed an area within Bad Influence Gang territory. Gross also said different gangs in the Antelope Valley often worked together as one to commit crimes. In his opinion, if a gang member is disrespected by someone within the territory claimed by his gang, and this occurs in front of other gang members, he was “pretty much obligated to do something about it.” Gross said the crime scene in this case was located within Dime Block territory.

Glass testified and denied firing a gun. He said that he had an argument with Perry at the party, and that he went to Donisha's house after. But he said Donisha called him and invited him over to her house because Perry wanted to fight him. Glass admitted he went to Donisha's house to fight Perry, but he denied bringing a gun when he went there with Rayford and the others.

Glass said that when he got to the house, Sheila, Donisha and Shadonna were waiting outside for him and told him Perry was not inside the house. Glass said he was standing a foot away from the front door of the house fist fighting with Sheila's neighbors, Terry and Darrel, when he heard five to seven gunshots go off. He dropped to the ground. He did not recognize the man who was shooting. He said it was not Phat Man. After the gunshots stopped, he went to his car and drove to Rayford's house.

Glass testified that Kimberly called him on the walkie-talkie phone more than once and said, “We going [sic] to kill you if you don't tell us who did it.“ Glass denied making the statement during the phone call after the incident which Kimberly attributed to him. Glass denied telling sheriff's deputies he was a member of Dime Block.

Rayford also testified. He acknowledged he went to the party with Glass but said he did not see the argument between Glass and Perry. Rayford said he went to Donisha's house so he could see Glass fight Perry. He said he did not bring a gun. When he arrived at the house with Glass and the others, Rayford said he got out of the car, but stayed near it. He saw Glass talking to Sheila by the front door of the house. He also saw De’Antwan Neal and some other boys fighting, and then he heard seven to eight gunshots.

Rayford said he did not see who fired the shots because he ran back to the car, got inside, and ducked down. About a minute later, Glass also got in the car, and they drove to Rayford's house. Rayford said he did not see Glass with a gun. Rayford denied he was a member of the Bad Influence Gang. He said he told Detective Gross he sometimes hung around with gang members. In an interview after the shootings, he told Detective Christopher Keeling that Glass was his “little homie” and he would have “[Glass's] back” if Glass got into a fight.

In rebuttal, Detective Keeling testified Rayford admitted in an interview 10 days after the shootings he was a member of Bad Influence Gang. Keeling also said Rayford told him a guy named Justin who was present at the incident was a member of Dime Block.

The trial judge instructed the jury: “A person who primarily intends to kill one person, may also concurrently intend to kill other persons within a particular zone of risk. This zone of risk is termed the ‘kill zone.’ The intent is concurrent when the nature and scope of the attack, while directed at a primary victim, are such that it is reasonable to infer the perpetrator intended to ensure harm to the primary victim by harming everyone in that victim's vicinity. Whether a perpetrator actually intended to kill the victim, either as a primary target or as someone within a ‘kill zone’ is an issue to be decided by you.”

During his closing argument, the prosecutor explained the kill zone theory: “What we are talking about is an idea known as concurrent intent. And again, you mainly intend to kill one [person], but at the same time, you can be found guilty of intending to kill everyone in what's known as a kill zone, a zone of risk. Around that person. And what you do is you look at the facts to determine if this is present.... Where were these people? In this case, they were gathered around the front door when the shots started. They were crawling inside the house as the shots continued.”

The prosecutor argued that Rayford and Glass intended to ensure harm to their intended victim in a way that exposed everyone in their vicinity to harm. The prosecutor noted the bullets had traveled through the walls and entered the house, adding, “This incident involves what appears to be the majority of the living space in this house. And that is the concept I was describing when we were talking about kill zone. It's not just the front door area.”

On September 16, 2004, the jury convicted Rayford and Glass of 11 counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an inhabited building. The jury also attached enhancements for gang involvement and the use of a firearm. They were each sentenced to 11 life sentences on the attempted murder convictions to be served consecutively, and 220 years for the firearm enhancement – 20 years for each of the 11 attempted murder convictions. The judge stayed imposing any sentences for the gang enhancement or for the conviction for shooting into an inhabited building.

Both men appealed. In July 2006, the Second District of California Court Appeal upheld the convictions, but vacated the gang and firearm enhancements. The court held there was insufficient evidence to support the enhancements and consequently vacated the 220 years imposed on the firearm enhancement. The court upheld the life sentences for the attempted murder convictions and found there was sufficient evidence to support the “kill zone” jury instruction.

The court said, “In this case, substantial evidence supports a finding there were several potential primary targets. The shooters could have targeted Sheila because she disrespected Glass by telling him there would be no fighting at her house that night. Sheila's neighbor Terry could have been the primary target given the evidence [that] members of defendants’ group started a fist fight with Terry for some unidentified reason. The jury could have drawn the inference there was preexisting ill will between Terry, on the one hand, and defendants and their associates, on the other hand. Finally, the shooters could have targeted Sheila, Donisha, and Shadonna for lying about Perry's whereabouts and trying to protect him.”

In 2009, retired Los Angeles police detective Dan Mulrenin began re-investigating the case for a lawyer who ultimately left the case rather than continue working pro bono. As Mulrenin dug into the case, he discovered that there were several witnesses known to the defense at the time of the trial who would have testified that Glass and Rayford were not the gunmen. However, the witnesses had not been called to testify.

At the same time that Mulrenin was working as a private investigator, he also was operating a driving school in Laguna Beach, California. Three of his students were the children of Laguna Beach attorney Annee Della Donna. In 2012, when Mulrenin spoke to her about the case and his belief that Glass and Rayford were innocent, she agreed to take on the case pro bono.

In 2014, Della Donna founded Innocence Rights of Orange County (Innocence Rights), a non-profit law group that advocates for the release of innocent prisoners. In partnership with the University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Law, Innocence Rights represented Rayford and Glass. Over time, UCI Law students devoted more than 1,000 pro bono hours to the case.

Meanwhile, in 2014, Donisha Williams and Sheila Lair, in separate interviews with the defense, said that “they would not have testified against Juan and Dupree if [Rayford and Glass] had told them who the real shooters were,” Della Donna reported. The defense filed a motion to grant Donisha immunity, but the motion was denied after the prosecution opposed it.

In 2015, Della Donna asked the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to review the case, but she said there was no response.

In 2015, a state petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed on behalf of Rayford. The writ challenged the kill zone theory. The writ was denied by the Court of Appeal, but the court granted permission for Rayford to come back to court depending on rulings in cases pending before the California Supreme Court. Eventually, the California Supreme Court agreed to take the case.

In 2017, Glass, represented by attorney Eric Dubin, also filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. That petition also was denied, but with the proviso that should the law change, the petition could be reinstated.

In 2018, the defense asked the District Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit to examine the case. The office declined based on an office policy against reviewing cases of defendants with active appeals.

In 2019, the California Supreme Court, in People v. Canizales, declared: “[A] shooter may be convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder on a ‘kill zone’ theory where the evidence establishes that the shooter used lethal force designed and intended to kill everyone in an area around the targeted victim (i.e., the ‘kill zone’) as the means of accomplishing the killing of that victim.”

The Court noted that it expected that “relatively few” cases would fit that description and cautioned trial courts to “tread carefully when the prosecution proposes to rely upon such a theory.” The court added that the use or attempted use of force that merely “endangered everyone in the area” was insufficient to support the kill zone theory. The Court also said the ruling applied retroactively.

Consequently, Glass’s and Rayford’s writs were revisited, and on June 16, 2020, the Second District Court of Appeal granted the writs. The Court of Appeal held there was insufficient evidence to support the kill zone theory.

The Court of Appeal noted that Rayford and Glass asserted that the only reasonable inference supported by the evidence was that the shooters fired on the house “to scare the Lair family, or send a message to Perry, or [as] a demonstration of force or to stop the fistfight,” and therefore lacked the specific intent to kill the group assembled on the lawn and in the house. “We agree,” the court said.

The cases were remanded to the trial court where, on October 30, 2020, the attempted murder charges were vacated and dismissed. That left only the conviction for shooting at an inhabited building. Glass and Rayford were sentenced to time served, and they were released that day.

Subsequently, Della Donna and Durbin filed a petition seeking to vacate the remaining conviction, asserting Glass and Rayford were factually innocent.

The defense contended there was evidence that could have been presented at the trial to support the innocence of Glass and Rayford, but was not. This included testimony from De’Antwan Neal, who said he reached out to the defense at the time of trial to say that he was there and that neither Glass nor Rayford fired a gun. But he was rebuffed. The lawyers found others at the scene who could have testified similarly, including Shadonna Williams.

In addition, there was evidence in the walkie-talkie chirps that the defense failed to present, including a statement by Kimberly Lair that could have been used to impeach her testimony. In that statement, she said that if Glass didn’t help them identify the shooters, the family would blame him and Rayford.

An evidentiary hearing began in October of 2022 and continued on various dates. During the hearing the defense also presented testimony from Chad McZeal, who had been convicted of murder in 2017 and was sentenced to 90 years in prison.

McZeal testified that he had been at the scene and that he saw someone in the crowd who made him feel fearful. So he got a handgun and admitted firing some of the shots. McZeal also testified that Glass and Rayford did not have guns and did not fire any shots.

On April 20, 2023, Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke II issued a ruling in the case. The judge declared, “What happened in January 2003 was a product of immaturity and impetuosity – that teenagers…wanted to watch someone ‘catch a fade’…is what I think the term is. It was pure chaos outside of the Lair home. It was ridiculous and could have resulted in someone being killed; could have been a mass casualty.”

The judge said McZeal “felt it was time, as he testified, to get it off his chest and let the healing begin.”

“This court finds Mr. McZeal credible. I find that Mr. Rayford and Mr. Glass were not shooters nor did they aid and abet the actual shooters, who the court believes were Mr. [Phat] Bland and Mr. McZeal.”

The judge granted the petition and vacated the remaining conviction for Glass and Rayford.

At that hearing, Della Donna presented a letter from the District Attorney’s Office saying that it would not retry the case. Consequently, the charge was dismissed.

Afterward, Della Donna declared, “I am so grateful for the hard work and dedication from the nearly 50 UCI law students who have assisted on this case over the years. They drafted appellate briefs, Supreme Court briefs, and multiple writs of habeas corpus. This was a life-changing case for our clients and without our help, they would have spent the rest of their lives behind bars. Thank you, UCI, for supporting this case and our quest for justice.”

In March 2024, Rayford and Glass filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking compensation for their wrongful conviction. Rayford and Glass also filed claims for state compensation with the California Victim Compensation Board, which approved compensation awards to both men of $859,040 in 2023.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 6/12/2023
Last Updated: 4/12/2024
County:Los Angeles
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Other Violent Felony
Reported Crime Date:2004
Age at the date of reported crime:17
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No