By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Accomplice in Lawrence murder awaits sentencing
Placeholder Image

STOCKTON – A jury found that 23-year-old Justin Wilson was not responsible for the shooting death of 51-year-old Michael Lawrence outside of his home last summer.

But during a trial in San Joaquin County Superior Court last month, Wilson, 23, was convicted of a felony weapons violation after being found in possession of brass knuckles following a police stop on the night that Lawrence was shot outside of his Williamson Road home.

He is scheduled to be sentenced today by Judge Bernard J. Garber today in Department 23 of the San Joaquin County courthouse at 9 a.m.

According to court testimony, Wilson let Michael Roessler – who the same jury convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of Michael Lawrence – ride his motorcycle from The Islander Tavern out towards the home where Lawrence and his family were having a summer barbecue.

Wilson was said to have furnished the brass knuckles to Roessler, who was anticipating a fight when he met back up with Lawrence after exchanging words outside of the rural bar. According to assistant district attorney Janet Smith, the group ended their disagreement with a handshake, but hours later decided to head out into the rural community looking for the man that they felt had disrespected him.

Wilson was arrested that night and charged with possession of brass knuckles but was ultimately released. He was rearrested several days later by the Manteca Police Department and has been remanded to the San Joaquin County Jail to stand trial for Lawrence’s murder nearly 18 months ago.

Roessler is scheduled to be sentenced later this month while Christopher Oliver, the man that authorities allege was with Roessler at the time of the shooting and emerged from the scuffle with a pair of gunshot wounds of his own, will stand trial for murder apart from his two accomplices. 

Oliver was hospitalized after suffering a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the hand and was arrested and charged with Lawrence’s murder upon being discharged.

A change in legal representation prevented all three men from being tried at the same time.