Oakland man agrees to 12-year prison term for killing man who’d allegedly robbed him weeks earlier

OAKLAND — In a plea deal with Alameda County prosecutors, a Bay Area man has agreed to a 12-year prison sentence for killing a man who’d allegedly robbed him weeks earlier, court records show.

Anthony C. Smith, 56, of Oakland, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of 34-year-old Andre Qualls. He formally changed his plea on Jan. 18, but won’t be sentenced until July, giving him another six months in Santa Rita Jail before he is transferred to the state prison system.

On Sept. 18, 2019, Qualls was sitting in his green Ford Explorer at a Chevron on the 300 block of Grand Avenue when Smith allegedly walked up, reached through the driver’s side window, and stabbed Qualls once in the heart. Smith would later confess to the stabbing, telling police that it felt as though “something took control of me” when he was driving alongside Qualls earlier that day and noticed Qualls laughing at him, according to police testimony at his 2022 preliminary hearing.

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Smith recognized Qualls as the man who robbed him of some $12,000 weeks earlier, and told police he “went bonkers,” police testified. Smith’s lawyer argued at the preliminary hearing that the killing was “in the heat of passion” — a legal term that reduces a killing from murder to manslaughter — while prosecutors argued it was a textbook case of premeditated murder.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of murder with prior convictions in favor of the lone voluntary manslaughter count. Court records say Smith’s prior offenses include a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, but it occurred nearly 40 years ago, in June 1986.

In his confession, Smith denied following Qualls and said it was a coincidence that they both ended up at the same gas station after Qualls laughed at him.

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