OAKLAND – Damion Sleugh was sentenced today to life in prison plus 35 years for murder and related drug trafficking charges, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson. The charges stemmed from the murder of Vincent Muzac in a parking lot near the Oakland Airport three days before Christmas in 2013.
Evidence at trial showed that Sleugh, 28, of Oakland, helped arrange a meeting to purchase five pounds of marijuana. In the early afternoon of December 22, 2013, Sleugh met with Mr. Muzac, of Alameda, in the parking lot of a Walmart store near Hegenberger Road and interstate 880 in Oakland. Surveillance video showed Mr. Muzac enter a car where he remained for four minutes before he was robbed and shot. His body was seen lying on the ground as the car sped away. A joint investigation by the FBI and the Oakland Police Department revealed that Sleugh was the driver. The evidence submitted at trial included incriminating text messages, FBI crime scene recreations, and images of Sleugh with the stolen marijuana. The photographs of Sleugh included a “selfie” taken from Sleugh’s phone two hours after the shooting; in the photograph, Sleugh is pictured in the same passenger seat where Mr. Muzac had just been shot.
On March 27, 2014, Sleugh was indicted in a six-count indictment charging him with conspiracy and attempt to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841; robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); the use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); the use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence resulting in murder, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924 (j); and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
According to the government’s filings, all but one of the charges against Sleugh arose from his participation in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The government asserted the drug deal with Mr. Muzac was just a ploy to rob him of marijuana. Moreover, once apprehended, Sleugh attempted to escape responsibility for the murder by blaming the person who drove Sleugh to and from the place where the marijuana deal was so have taken place. The government argued in papers filed with the court:
Defendant Sleugh pulled a loaded gun on an unarmed man in a closed vehicle. When Muzac refused to give up the marijuana, Sleugh formed the requisite premeditation—pressing the muzzle of the gun an inch from Muzac’s flesh and then firing, even as Muzac begged him not to. After he fired the shot, the defendant pushed the dying Muzac out of the car and sped away. As if this were not sufficiently callous, the defendant felt compelled to memorialize the moment with that notorious selfie from Vincent Muzac’s seat.
On July 17, 2015, a jury convicted Sleugh of all six counts in the indictment. The verdict also included a special finding that Sleugh committed first degree murder. The guilty verdict followed a two-week jury trial before the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers, U.S. District Judge. The sentence was handed down by the Judge Gonzalez-Rogers.
Assistant United States Attorneys Damali Taylor and Joseph Alioto Jr. prosecuted the case, along with paralegals Patty Lau and Christine Tian. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the FBI and of the Oakland Police Department.