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Advancements in DNA testing help solve a 30-year-old Hollywood murder

A 55-year-old man was sentenced Aug. 23 to 27 years to life in prison for the killing of a young man during an attempted carjacking more than 30 years ago, authorities said.

Pierre Alphonse Romain was convicted in 2017 of first-degree murder with special circumstances in the killing of Jade Maurice Clark, a 21-year-old Los Angeles man, according to prosecutors.

On June 29, 1987, about 2 p.m., Clark was shot while sitting inside his customized 1984 Nissan 300 ZX outside a Hollywood nightclub, police said.

Romain and another person walked up to the car and shot Clark.

"Before Clark was shot, he was able to reach under the seat retrieving his handgun. Gunfire was exchanged and the driver got the worst of it," records show. There was a passenger with Clark who fled and came back to check on his friend.

Romain was initially charged with murder in 1987, but the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. A spent bullet found at the scene contained blue fabric, blood and tissue. Forensic testing at the time could not connect Romain to the shooting.

A recent examination of the bullet found at the scene, along with other evidence, linked and confirmed that Romain was indeed the shooter and that he sustained a single gunshot wound to his right arm during the attempted robbery, according to the report.

The new findings were presented as evidence in his 2018 trial. It is not known if Romain sought treatment for his gunshot wound at the time of the murder.

Prior to and after the fatal shooting, Romain led a storied and sordid life. According to court records, Romain was a professed member of a gang.

In 1986, he was discharged from the Air Force. Despite being a suspect in the 1987 murder, Romain was able to work as a law enforcement officer, holding the position of sergeant with the Department of Defense Police at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, according to court records.

At the time of his 1987 arrest, Romain was being considered as a candidate for a police officer job with the Los Angeles Police Department, but was disqualified. Romain went on to become a federal police officer.

Romain managed to stay on law enforcement's radar partly because of his determination to become a police officer with a state law enforcement agency. Over a nine-year period starting in 1995, Romain applied on 19 occasions to 19 different police jurisdictions in California for employment as a police officer, but was rejected, according to the report.

In 2003, Romain applied to become an officer in the San Francisco area, sparking renewed interest in the case. A background check initiated by the San Francisco Police Department alerted the original investigator of the murder, L.A. police Det. Rick Jackson, who at the time had recently been assigned to the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division's Cold Case Homicide Unit.

On Dec. 15, 2003,  Jackson and his partner, Det. Tim Marcia, collected reference samples from Romain, and a more modern DNA analysis determined that Romain’s profile was indeed a match to the bullet recovered from the crime scene in 1987, according to the report.

Romain continues to deny guilt in the murder, according to court records.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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