Man accused of murder released after witness speaks up

The scene of the March 29 shooting near Bob’s Liquors on Sacramento Street. Photo: A citizen reporter

Randall Oscar Alston, one of two men arrested in connection with the murder of 24-year-old Devin Lee Whitmire in Berkeley in late March is a free man after charges against him were dismissed.

Another man has been questioned, but not arrested, after a dramatic moment in court when Whitmire’s brother, 22-year-old Darnell Robinson, who was with Whitmire when he was shot, said Alston wasn’t involved in the shooting and then pointed to a man in the audience and said, “That’s the guy who did it,” according to a Bay City News report.

Alston was the first person to be arrested and charged in connection with the shooting of Whitmire near Bob’s Liquors and Deli in the 2800 block of Sacramento Street at about 7:35 p.m. on March 29. Authorities later arrested a second suspect, 19-year-old Berkeley resident Calvester Houston Stewart. Stewart is accused of being the shooter.

Separately, Stewart is also charged with five counts of attempted murder for a separate incident in which he allegedly engaged in a shootout with Berkeley police officers on April 13 following a routine traffic stop and subsequent chase. He was wounded by the Berkeley police during the shootout on Delaware Street and appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Alston’s lawyer, James Giller, who’s been practicing criminal law in Oakland for more than 50 years, said he’s never heard of another case in which a murder defendant was freed after a prosecution witness came to court and said the wrong man was in custody.

Read the full Bay City News story.

Man in police shoot-out charged with Berkeley murder [05.08.12]
Berkeley police identify suspect who was shot [04.23.12]
Berkeley police exchange gunfire with fleeing suspect [04.14.12]
Berkeley victim’s brother fought suspect after killing [04.04.12]
Reward offered to help find suspects in Berkeley homicide [04.03.12]
Police identify victim and suspect in Thursday slaying [04.01.12]
Southside residents contend with spate of shootings [03.30.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
Shooting on Sacramento and Oregon, victim wounded [03.29.12]

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  • dsd510

    Glad to hear that an innocent man was freed. Sad that he falsely had to spend time in jail, period.

  • Guest

    Pretty amazing that someone who wasn’t a defendant got pointed to in court by the key witness in a criminal trial. How often does that happen?

  • Bruce Love

    I find it interesting to re-read the discussion thread with Daniel Miller in this context:

  • Anonymous

    How do you know the witness wasn’t intimidated?

  • BishopBerkeley

    Weekly.  At least it did in Perry Mason episodes…

  • BishopBerkeley

    Intimidated witnesses “lose” their memory and go silent.  Or they no-show.  But they DON’T show up and then snitch out some other guy so they can get attacked by HIS posse too. 

    C’mon, is it really so inconceivable to you that the wrong guy got caught up?  Do you even read the news?  It happens ALL THE TIME.  What’s surprising is that the brother spoke up.

  • BaronLum


  • Anonymous

    No, it’s not inconceivable. It’s just very unusual that this would make it all the way to trial before happening. Witness intimidation of the form “if you don’t go back on your affidavit and name this other guy who we don’t like we’ll kill your entire family” isn’t unknown in Mexico for example.

  • Guest

    Obfuscation in order to prevent conviction.

  • Guest

    More than a little interesting.  Makes the brother as a witness not very reliable.  Not guilty is not the same thing as innocent.  

  • Heather_W_62

    Weren’t Alston and the victim’s brother fighting shortly after the shooting?