Northern California

U.S. Attorney won’t seek death against alleged pot traffickers accused of murder

OAKLAND — The U.S. Attorney’s office in Northern California has officially taken the death penalty off the table for two men charged in a multi-state marijuana trafficking ring that authorities say involved multiple murder conspiracies.

In a court document filed Tuesday, federal prosecutors gave notice they will not seek the death penalty against Marcus Etienne or Craig Marshall. Two other defendants in the case, Mario Robinson and Elizabeth Gobert, were not eligible for the death penalty.

The four were indicted last year on federal charges, including racketeering and murder to further ongoing criminal enterprise. Authorities say Etienne led a marijuana trafficking ring that shipped marijuana from California to Louisiana.

He is alleged to have ordered the killing of Trince Thibodeaux, in Oakland, over an unpaid debt. Marshall and Robinson are accused of helping carry out the hit. Etienne, after his arrest, then allegedly plotted with Gobert to kill Robinson.

Earlier this month, prosecutors indicated they would be seeking additional charges against Etienne and Marshall, and raised the possibility of initiating a rare federal death penalty case. Their deadline to bring new charges and/or make a decision to seek the death penalty was scheduled for Aug. 10.