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Woman convicted of murdering friend gets 25 years to life

A 36-year-old woman has been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting a friend at a West Oakland recycling center in 2016.

Tanika Beltcher, 36, was convicted on Feb. 25 of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Tamu Irene Myers, 40, in the 900 block of 21st Street at about 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2016.

Beltcher admitted during her trial that she fatally shot Myers but said she did so because, “I was upset and scared.”

Defense attorney Jennie Otis told jurors in her closing argument in the case that Beltcher acted in self-defense when she shot Myers because Myers had looked at her threateningly and charged at her with a knife. Otis said Beltcher fired “to save herself from being seriously injured or killed in her own home” and “was literally trapped in her own home.”

Myers, who police said was a transient who made money buying and selling recyclables, was pronounced dead at the scene.

But Alameda County prosecutor Charly Weissenbach alleged that when Beltcher called dispatchers to report the shooting, she didn’t tell them that Myers had a knife.

In addition, police said a knife wasn’t found at the shooting scene.

Weissenbach said jurors shouldn’t believe Beltcher’s self-defense claim because she “lied over and over again” in her statements to police and in her testimony during her trial.

Otis said Beltcher lived with the recycling center’s owner and was responsible for watching its door on the evening of Dec. 28, 2016, when she said Beltcher and Myers got into a dispute after Myers came to the facility with a shopping cart filled with recyclables.

Otis said the reason for the dispute is unclear but it may have been because Myers “didn’t like being bossed around by a friend (Beltcher),” as Beltcher had told her to take the recyclables out to the street. The defense lawyer alleged that the prosecution’s theory that Beltcher killed Myers because Myers had stolen $10 from her or because of a jealous rage “are based on entirely on speculation and are unsupported and ludicrous.”

In addition to second-degree murder, Beltcher was convicted of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, as she was convicted of felony possession for sale of cocaine base in Alameda County in 2001. In a memo before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer sentenced Beltcher on Friday, Otis wrote, “While the jury convicted her of second-degree murder, that does not mean that Tanika does not deserve compassion from this court.”

Otis said Beltcher “remained addicted to crack cocaine until Dec. 28, 2016, when many of her life circumstances converged and led her to take her friend’s life.”

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