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Published on April 24, 2024
Benicia Knapps Pleads No Contest in Home Depot Guard's Murder, Faces 19 Years to Life in Alameda CountySource: Pleasanton Police Department

In a solemn turn for justice, Benicia Knapps pleaded no contest to the second-degree murder of Blake Mohs, a Home Depot security guard, and will face 19 years to life in prison, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced. Her accomplice, David Guillory, entered a no contest plea to child abuse and other charges, receiving a 7-year and 4-month sentence, according to a press release from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. The pair were involved in the 2023 murder of Mohs, who was shot after retrieving a stolen item from Knapps at the Pleasanton Home Depot where he worked. "Blake Mohs was murdered for nothing more than doing his job," DA Price said, lamenting the irrevocable loss felt by his loved ones and the local community.

The fallout from the murder has resulted in a fracture between Blake's family and DA Pamela Price, with Mohs’ family in vigorous pursuit for maximal sentencing for his death, while Price, known for her progressive and restorative justice approaches is criticized for her alleged leniency, per earlier Hoodline Oakland reporting. The family's endeavor for justice has thrust them into the thickets of a criminal justice system grappling with the dual need for lawful retribution—a judicial system that seeks to heal wounds and the whole of a community that eyes for severe penance for transgressions, with Blake's mother, Lori Mohs, expressing her exasperation during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Blake Mohs, who was 26 at the time of his death, dreamed of a career in law enforcement and was already a respected member of community programs like Boy Scouts and the police explorer and cadet program. In a heartbreaking revelation, Hoodline Oakland also reported that his last communication to his mentor, Newark Police Lt. Sal Sandoval, a week before he was killed, was about his intent to apply to the Newark Police Department. The community and various law enforcement agencies paid tribute to Blake at a candlelight vigil, a somber occasion that unified them in mourning and solidarity.

While DA Pamela Price, dealing with a recall campaign called "Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE): Recall DA Price," has chosen to withhold comments on Lori Mohs' testimony, the dispute underscores a greater societal deliberation on criminal justice reform, the division over progressive prosecution, and the intricate balance between penalizing the guilty and individuating intentions for their rehabilitation; the district attorney's office did affirm that the plea agreement with Knapps and Guillory was made with the "blessing of the next of kin," according to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. As the case proceeds to sentencing set for June 6, 2024, the raw emotions and social implications of this tragic event continue to reverberate through the lives of those personally stricken and the public conscience that spectates and ponders.