WESTCHESTER - An Inglewood woman who witnessed her nephew fatally shoot a friend and subsequently helped Los Angeles County prosecutors secure a conviction with her testimony was honored this week at an awards ceremony.Two others were also recognized at a Courageous Citizen Awards luncheon Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey presided over the ceremony, which was hosted by Rotary Club of Westchester. Looking on from a second-story window on April 6, 2009, Versie Gipson, 54, watched her then-20-year-old nephew and his parents arguing outside of an apartment complex. As the argument escalated, a childhood friend - who had dropped by to visit Gipson's nephew - unknowingly approached the feuding family. Without warning, Gipson's nephew drew a handgun and fatally shot his friend four times in the head. The assailant then turned the gun on his father, striking him in the left shoulder. Gipson's nephew then fled the scene. Gipson immediately called police, candidly recounting details of the incident. Despite intense family pressure to recant, Gipson was the only witness to cooperate with police and testify against her nephew. Ultimately, the defendant was convicted of one count each of second-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to 72 years to life in prison. In addition to Gipson, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will present Courageous Citizen Awards to Lloyd Joseph Collins, 47, of Carson and Elias Mejia, 40, of Los Angeles. Collins, a tow-truck driver, helped authorities catch a purse snatcher and Mejia came to the aid of a woman physically assaulted by a stranger in Koreatown.
********** Published: June 16, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 9