DA Gascón Announces Conviction of Gang Member on All Counts for Shooting Death Following Robbery Spree

April 27, 2011

CONTACT: Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
Seth Steward, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1014


SAN FRANCISCO – District Attorney George Gascón announced today that 25-year-old Vernon Anderson (CTN: 2311227) was convicted of multiple felony counts, including murder for the 2006 shooting death of 19-year-old Zachary Roche-Balsam.

“As part of a calculated crime spree this defendant showed a reckless disregard for human life that resulted in a teenager’s senseless killing,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. “With today’s conviction we move one step closer to stomping out gang violence and restoring safety and order in our community.”

The jury verdict was handed down on April 27, 2011 in Department 25 of San Francisco Superior Court following five days of deliberation. The jury convicted the defendant on all counts and found true all allegations at the end of a seven-week trial before the Honorable Anne-Christine Massullo.

The defendant faces a sentence of 50 years to life in state prison having been found guilty of: one count of felony murder, two counts of robbery, three counts of attempted robbery, one count of active participation in a criminal street gang, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and two counts of shooting into a house. Additionally, the jury found true the allegations that the defendant used a gun during the commission of these crimes and that the criminal acts were committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

According to court documents the armed defendant, a member of the Randolph Mob street gang, and several other perpetrators approached a crowd of high school and college students late in the evening on September 16, 2006 with the intention of committing robbery. The crowd was gathered following a party in the 300 block of Victoria Street in San Francisco’s Lakeview District. As the defendant and his accomplices robbed and attempted to rob individuals in the assembled group two guns were fired multiple times. Several of those shots hit and killed 19-year-old Zachary Roche-Balsam. Eyewitnesses placed a gun in the defendant’s hand, but did not identify him as the shooter who killed the victim. The defendant was able to be charged and convicted of felony murder because the killing occurred during the commission of a robbery and was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Lieutenant Tom Cleary and retired Inspector Karen Lynch of the San Francisco Police Department led the investigation that resulted in the April 2007 arrest of the defendant. There remains an active and open investigation into the other multiple perpetrators believed to have been involved in these crimes. Having been convicted of all counts, Vernon Anderson will next appear on June 17, 2011 before Judge Massullo in Department 25 of San Francisco Superior Court to set a date for sentencing.

Harry Dorfman is the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the case, including the July 2008 preliminary hearing in which the defendant was held to answer on all the charges of which he was ultimately convicted. Jean Hassett is the Victim Witness Advocate assigned to assist and support the victims and their families.