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Man Freed in Death of Gang Leader : Courts: Rodney Compton is to get one year probation in the slaying of Tony Bogard, who helped reach a truce between the Crips and Bloods.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The man who killed notorious gang leader Tony Bogard, who was acclaimed nationally for championing the 1992 Watts truce between Crips and Bloods, was released from jail Tuesday after pleading no contest to one count of voluntary manslaughter.

Rodney Compton, 21, who contended that he shot Bogard in self-defense during an argument at the Imperial Courts housing project, will be sentenced this month to one year probation, with credit for four months he has served in jail, under terms of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors. He had been held in lieu of $1 million bail since the January incident.

“Actually, I recommended that he not accept the deal because I think I could have gotten him a not guilty verdict,” said Compton’s attorney, Edi M.O. Faal. “But he feels this is wonderful. He just wanted to get out of jail.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Janet Moore, who squared off with Faal during last year’s Reginald O. Denny beating trial, said the agreement was the only fair resolution to a troublesome case. Although Compton had been charged with murder, Moore conceded that there was no proof he had provoked the fatal shooting.

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“The only thing we finally were able to ascertain is that there was definitely an argument, that the argument escalated, that both men were armed and that there was a gun battle,” Moore said. “We really have no clear-cut evidence to determine . . . who began the dispute, who escalated the confrontation or who drew their weapon first.”

Bogard, whose legal name was Tyrone Tony Thomas, rose to prominence shortly after the Los Angeles riots when he formed Hands Across Watts, a nonprofit corporation designed to promote business ventures for reformed Bloods and Crips. The 30-year-old ex-convict was considered a hero by many in his impoverished community, which was hungry for the positive publicity and government funds that his efforts attracted.

But even as he condemned the violent culture of the streets, Bogard was being investigated by the FBI for allegedly siphoning thousands of dollars from his gang’s drug sales and robberies. Critics argued that Bogard, who initially objected to the truce, embraced it only after he saw the opportunity for personal gain.

He was killed Jan. 13, when he confronted Compton, whom authorities believe is a drug dealer, in a parking lot on 114th Street. Some said Bogard was demanding that Compton donate a share of his allegedly illicit profits to their community. Others said Bogard was angry with Compton for reportedly failing to give him a cut of earnings from a cocaine rip-off.

During the heated exchange, 25 shots were fired, six of which hit Bogard, who was caught without his customary bulletproof vest. Compton, who was wounded in the arm, said Bogard fired first. No witnesses confirmed his account, but gunpowder residue was found on the slain truce leader’s hand.


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