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'Nut Case' gang rampage - GTA cited

Murder, robbery and kidnapping raps

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A member of the Oakland, California "Nut Case" gang who allegedly indulged in an orgy of murder, attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping could face the death penalty if the jury at his trial finds him guilty on commission of a robbery and multiple murder raps.

Demarcus Ralls is the first Nut Case to stand trial for a six-week crime spree in late 2002 and early 2003 which "terrorized Oakland residents", ktvu.com reports.

The Nut Cases - some of whom sport Planters' "Mr. Peanut" logo tattoos - were so dubbed because they apparently indulged in crime for fun. Ralls alone racked up four murder charges, two counts of attempted murder, 17 counts of robbery, one count of kidnapping and "various enhancement clauses".

According to the Oakland cops, "several suspects told investigators that the gang often played the video game Grand Theft Auto III in which players are awarded points for committing crimes such as murders, robberies and carjackings".

The jury has been deliberating Ralls' fate at Alameda County Superior Court since 7 March. His attorney Ted Johnson claimed during the trial that Ralls "didn't fire the fatal shots in any of the four murders he is accused of carrying out", while prosecutor Darryl Stallworth insisted "the overwhelming weight of the evidence" supported a conviction.

Ralls' five fellow nutcases face trial later this year and in early 2007. ®

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