A Jamaica Plain gang member nicknamed “Laws” was convicted last week of murdering a Roxbury high school student in a case of mistaken identity.
Lamory S. “Laws” Gray, 23, of 934 Parker St. in the Bromley-Heath housing development, was a member of the Heath Street gang. In July 2006, he shot Herman Taylor III to death on a Roxbury sidewalk after mistaking him for a member of the rival H-Block gang.
Gray has a history of involvement in Jackson Square crime. Later in 2006, Gray was the driver of a car whose passenger was shot by police officers after allegedly pointing a gun at them on Heath Street. Gray faced various criminal charges in that case. Gray also was arrested in Bromley-Heath on charges of Class D drug possession with intent to distribute in 2006 and 2007.
Gray was “on a mission to Humboldt Avenue to shoot someone from H-Block” when he encountered Taylor on July 12, 2006, prosecutor Masai King told the jury in Gray’s trial, according to the DA’s Office. Mistaking Taylor for a gang member, Gray taunted him, then pulled a handgun and shot him multiple times, at one point pausing to adjust his aim as Taylor tried to flee.
Taylor, a popular 18-year-old with no involvement in gangs or crime, died after a passer-by drove him to a hospital. Taylor’s family established a memorial fund that supports youth sports and advocates for peace on the streets. Its web site is www.ht3fund.org.
“You own no streets or corners or blocks,” said Taylor’s mother, Sarah Coleman, in defiance of street gang culture, at Gray’s sentencing hearing this week, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.
“How many more innocent, irreplaceable children have to die before the gunfire stops?” District Attorney Dan Conley said in a press statement. “And how many young men will grow old and die in prison before they get the message that this is not a game?”
Gray was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole on the first-degree murder conviction. He was also convicted of unlawful gun possession and unlawful carrying of a loaded gun.
The conviction came despite several witnesses changing their testimony or claiming to have forgotten everything, which Conley in a press statement blamed on a “cloud of fear” around gang violence.
Mistaken-identity killings and assaults have been a common result of gang wars in Boston. In 2007, a 13-year-old Mission Hill boy was killed when he allegedly was mistaken for a gang member, according to prosecutors. Two teens from Roxbury’s New Academy Estates face murder charges in that case.