PASADENA — A jury Friday convicted a Duarte man of the murder of his brother, who was found shot to death in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl nearly a year ago.
Pasadena Superior Court jurors deliberated for not much more than an hour before finding Clifton Ashley Cass, 57, guilty of the first-degree murder of his brother, 57-year-old Victor Cass of Duarte.
The jury of eight women and four men also convicted Clifton Cass of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and found true the special allegation that he personally used a handgun to murder his brother.
Clifton Cass’s polite and mild-mannered courtroom demeanor contrasted starkly with the brutal crime which he had just been convicted of.
Wearing a grey shirt and blue jeans, the large-framed killer with a salt-and-pepper mustache reached out to shake the hand of the lead police investigator in the case — Pasadena police Detective Keith Gomez — immediately after the verdict was read.
He sat quietly and showed no emotion as the court clerk informed him of his conviction.
He waived his right to a jury trial on the issue of his prior offenses and admitted to the court he had received at least five previous felony convictions, making him eligible for sentencing under California’s Three Strikes Law.
The convict said he wanted to get the process, “over with, and get to wherever I’m going.”
The body of 57-year-old Victor Cass of Duarte was discovered by a maintenance worker in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl on Feb. 28, 2011.
Clifton Cass, angered by perceived disrespect displayed by Victor Cass toward their mother, lured his brother to the Rose Bowl under the ruse of a cocaine deal before shooting him and trying, unsuccessfully, to decapitate him with a machete, Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta argued during the trial.
Clifton Cass was defended by attorney Bill Jacobson.
Judge Janice Croft ordered Clifton Cass back to court March 14 for sentencing.
Friends and family members of the killer and victim did not wish to comment following the verdict.
A key piece of evidence in the case was an audio recording of an interview with a third Cass brother, Gregory Cass, who said on tape that Clifton confessed the killing to him.
Complicating the case, however, Gregory Cass suffers from serious memory problems. When he testified in court, he displayed difficulty even recognizing Clifton Cass, and said he had only a vague recollection that he had lost a brother.
According to Gregory Cass’ recorded statement, Clifton was infuriated at Victor Cass because he was bringing home women and using drugs in their mother’s home, as well as eating her Meals on Wheels dinners.
Clifton Cass was jailed in April of last year after being found with drugs and weapons during a traffic stop, officials said. A search at his home yielded yet more drugs and guns.
A second suspect in the case, Dwayne Sims, 60, of Duarte pleaded no contest late last year to charges of being an accessory after the fact for helping clean up evidence following the killing and being a felony with five previous convictions in possession of a firearm, Los Angeles, district attorney’s officials said.
Sims is due back in Court March 2 for sentencing.