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Man sentenced to life in prison for Long Beach drug deal that ends in murder

A man was sentenced May 4 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a 2013 killing during a drug transaction, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. 

On March 24, a jury found Mark Cooper, 24, guilty of  nine felony counts, including first-degree murder, in the death of Jose Luis Vidal, 24. The other convictions consisted of four counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of attempted murder and one count each of assault with a firearm and first-degree burglary with a person present. 

Jurors also found true a gun allegation and a special circumstance that the murder was committed in the commission of a robbery. 

At the time of his death, prosecutors said Vidal had large amounts of marijuana that he intended to sell. 

On Jan. 19, 2013, Vidal was in his father-in-law's Long beach home with friends and relatives when Cooper and three others arrived to purchase marijuana, prosecutors said.

One of the men with Cooper forced a neighbor into the home, prosecutors added. 

During the meeting, Cooper and another man pulled out guns, but one of Vidal’s friends bumped into the unidentified assailant, knocking his gun magazine to the ground and throwing the foursome’s robbery plans into turmoil, prosecutors said.

At that point, Cooper threw his gun to his disarmed accomplice, who then fired multiple shots. Vidal and a neighbor were struck during the gunfire, officials said, and Cooper and his partners stole the drugs and fled.

Long Beach police were called after the shooting, and the two injured men were taken to a hospital. Vidal later died from his injuries, according to coroner’s records.

Although Cooper never fired a weapon, prosecutors said he gave his gun to the man who fired the shots that killed Vidal. No one else has been arrested in the case.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @jeromercampbell and @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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