Pleas to lesser charges in ex-USF athlete’s death

Two men who had been charged with murder in the shooting death of a former University of San Francisco basketball player during an attempted drug heist pleaded no contest Monday to lesser charges.   Cassidy O’Connor and Ricky Anderson were friends of the victim, Hyman Taylor Jr., 23, but they were charged because the three had allegedly tried to rob a marijuana dealer in Emeryville, beginning a chain of events that led to Taylor’s shooting death.

On June 8, 2010, Taylor and Anderson were hiding in some bushes near the parking lot of the Ikea store at 4400 Shellmound St. when the marijuana dealer and a man acting as her protector drove up for a prearranged sale, said Greg Dolge, an Alameda County deputy district attorney.  Taylor and Anderson – each armed – came out of the bushes and tried to rob her, authorities said. Taylor fired his weapon, and the woman’s protector returned fire, striking Taylor and wounding Anderson.

The woman and her protector were not charged because they acted in self-defense, authorities said. O’Connor and Anderson were initially charged with murder and attempted robbery under the provocative-act doctrine, which holds accomplices responsible when their crime partners act in a way that leads to death.

Anderson, 28, of San Francisco pleaded no contest Monday in Superior Court to attempted robbery and personal use of a firearm and is to receive a 12-year prison sentence, Dolge said. O’Connor, 21, of Oakland pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit robbery and a gun enhancement and is expected to receive six years behind bars.

Taylor, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was a 6-foot-9, 245-pound center who last played at USF in the 2008-09 season. He was suspended with three weeks left in the season for ignoring instructions during practice and did not play again.  Taylor had transferred to USF from Virginia Tech before the 2005-06 season. He redshirted the following year at USF, then played the full 2007-08 season, ranking ninth in the West Coast Conference in blocked shots at 0.9 per game.

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