2 testify in Berkeley murder hearing against Oakland man

Anthony Medearis' aunt wore a lanyard and memorial photograph of her nephew to court this week. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Anthony Medearis’ aunt wore a lanyard and memorial photograph of her nephew to court this week. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The 7-year-old nephew of a man charged with killing Berkeley father Anthony “Lil Tone” Medearis III in September reluctantly took the stand in a hearing Tuesday to determine whether a trial against Medearis’ accused killer can proceed.

Twenty-two-year-old Darnell Williams Jr. of Oakland is facing murder charges for Medearis’ killing, which authorities said took place after the two men got into a fight after a dice game in West Berkeley on Sept. 8 near Eighth and Camelia streets.

Williams and his friend Laquana Nuno, 28, have been charged with murder in the Medearis case. Their cases are not being tried together at this time, however. (Nuno is alleged only to have given Williams a ride after the shooting of 22-year-old Medearis. She is in custody on murder charges, nonetheless, and scheduled to testify Wednesday.)

The jointly scheduled preliminary hearing for Williams and another man, Joseph Carroll Jr., is taking place this week in connection with the Medearis killing and a retribution shooting that left 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine dead in Oakland on July 17.

Authorities announced in October that Williams had killed Carradine, and indicated that Carroll had helped plan that attack. Authorities have said the shooting was revenge for the July 17, 2013, killing in Berkeley of Jermaine Davis, which itself may well have been the result of a longstanding feud between Oakland and Berkeley gangs. (Update: This was later shown to be false.)

The same night Carradine was killed, authorities say Carroll tracked down Antiown “Twanny” York, intending to kill him in Antioch due to a belief that York had killed Davis. After a confrontation, however, Carroll is alleged to have let York go. Authorities said Carroll and Williams later continued trying to find York to kill him.

Berkeley Police announced York’s arrest in connection with the Davis case Tuesday.

Authorities have not claimed any connection between Carroll, 27, and the Medearis shooting.

Caught between two worlds

Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay heard testimony in connection with both killings Tuesday, as the hearing began to determine whether there is enough evidence for the cases to move forward to trial. Testimony is expected to continue throughout the week.

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, via NBC Bay Area

The 7-year-old boy who testified Tuesday — before the judge, several attorneys, the two defendants and a courtroom audience of about 15 — was identified as Williams’ nephew. Authorities said Williams took the boy to the dice game in Berkeley where Medearis ultimately was shot and killed. The second-grader received a grazing gunshot wound beneath his eye after a fight broke out between Williams and Medearis, authorities said.

In fractured testimony, the boy told deputy district attorney John J. Brouhard that the two men had argued, that Medearis had called for help and that Williams had followed Medearis out of sight with a black gun. The boy said he heard numerous gunshots.

The boy — who wore a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie — answered many of Brouhard’s questions saying “I don’t know,” or that he didn’t remember, in response to questions Brouhard said the boy had previously, even recently, answered during prior interviews with authorities.

As his uncle watched him carefully, the boy ultimately admitted he was afraid to tell the full truth in court. He said, in response to Brouhard’s questions, that Williams had shown him a gun in the boy’s bedroom and told him not to tell anybody about what he knew. (Prior to his incarceration Sept. 8, Williams had lived in the same Oakland home with his sister — the boy’s mother, as well as the boy’s baby sister and grandfather.)

The boy also said his mother told him, while they were in the hospital during treatment for the gunshot wound he sustained in the shooting that killed Medearis, not to say anything to anyone about what had happened.

As the questioning continued, the boy became increasingly nervous, pressing his clenched fist against his face and, eventually, nearly covering his eyes with his open palm as he spoke. When he finished his testimony, he presented a colorful hand-made drawing — unrelated to the proceedings — to the judge, then got down off the stand. Facing forward as he walked, he didn’t look at his uncle as he left the courtroom. Williams turned to follow the boy’s exit with his gaze, his face expressionless.

A second reticent witness to the Berkeley killing also took the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Ramon Davis, who lives near where the Medearis shooting took place, said he was drawn outside by “a bunch of ruckus” on Sept. 8. From his apartment, he said hesitantly, he saw Williams and Medearis in a physical fight. He heard Medearis say, “You trippin’,” and saw Medearis beating on Williams as Williams fought back.

Moments later, he heard Medearis “screaming for dear life” as he ran down a driveway, away from the area of the dice game, toward Eighth Street. Williams followed and pulled out a gun, Davis said.

According to a transcript referenced by prosecutor Brouhard, Davis previously told police Medearis had said, “Help me, help me, he’s fittin’ to shoot me,” that Williams then started shooting at Medearis, and that it sounded like he emptied “damn near the whole clip.” Brouhard also said Davis told police he had seen Williams at a friend’s funeral previously, and had recognized him by what looked like “devil horn” tattoos on his face.

Tuesday, Davis denied making those statements, said he didn’t know anything about guns, hadn’t seen the actual shooting, and had seen Williams for the first time the day of the shooting.

After he heard the first shot, he testified Tuesday, he’d quickly gone inside.

Davis mumbled and exhaled heavily during much of his testimony. In response to numerous requests from attorneys to repeat himself, he described himself as upset, nervous and scared. Throughout his nearly 75-minute testimony, his leg and body shook in tremors. At times he pounded his fist on his knee. Davis said several times that he’d been forced to speak with police, and that he didn’t want to continue to answer questions from attorneys.

“I was minding my own business,” he insisted, adding later, “I can’t believe I’m up here doing this, rattin’ on somebody.”

8-year-old girl to paramedic: “I’m dead”

Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family

Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family

The rest of the day Tuesday was devoted to witness testimony about the high-profile shooting in Oakland of Alaysha Carradine, two young friends, and their grandmother, Clara Fields, hours after Jermaine Davis was killed in Berkeley on July 17, 2013. Carradine died as a result.

Authorities have said she was caught in the crossfire as Williams and Carroll attempted to pay back Antiown York, who they believed shot and killed their comrade Jermaine Davis in Berkeley last year. Carradine was at a sleepover at the home of York’s children and their grandmother at the time of the shooting.

Fields, Brea Colbert (the mother of the siblings who were shot), and one of the young shooting victims herself, testified Tuesday, along with an Oakland police officer who responded first to the scene and carried the injured Carradine outside to paramedics. Footage from his chest camera as he arrived at the home and found the victims was played in court.

Alameda County paramedic Julie Silva testified that she arrived at the home, in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue, at 11:25 p.m. to see Carradine being carried outside in the arms of that officer, Jason Mitchell.

Silva took the little girl from him, noticing a gunshot wound at the base of her neck, and carried her back to the ambulance. She found a second injury, to her back in the shoulder blade area, as she began to render aid to the child.

Carradine was “minimally responsive,” able to tell Silva her name, and was aware she’d been shot, the paramedic said.

As they headed for Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, Silva recounted some of the girl’s final words. Carradine’s mother, Chiquita Carradine, sobbed in the courtroom gallery as she listened.

“As we were nearing Children’s Hospital, she let out a haunting scream at the top of her lungs,” saying “I’m dead,” Silva testified. “I said, ‘No, baby girl… you’re hurt.”

Silva told Carradine they were on the way to the doctor for help.

“The doctor? Then I’m dying, I’m dying,” Silva recalls the 8-year-old telling her.

Silva said, after getting to the hospital, she stayed in the trauma room as doctors tried to save Carradine’s life. When it got to be too much, she would leave the room. But she said she was there when the child ultimately was pronounced dead.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “Very difficult to deal with.”

Testimony in the case is set to continue Wednesday.

Read more about the Medearis and Davis homicides on Berkeleyside. 

Breaking: Police announce arrest in Berkeley homicide (01.07.14)
Robbery attempt led to Medearis killing; 2 charged (10.01.13)
‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley (10.01.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Murdered man was brother of man killed by gangs in 2009 (07.18.13)
Breaking: Man shot and killed on Derby Street in Berkeley (07.17.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley police make second arrest in murder (11.01.10)
Shooting on Alcatraz Avenue (10.30.10)
Berkeley police arrest man suspected of murder (10.28.10)

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  • bgal4

    If that 7 year old is not removed from his negligent mother’s care he will most likely be a causality of the street culture.

  • Just Sayin

    Seems pretty obvious his mother should also go to jail for obstruction of justice.

  • Just Sayin

    Mr. Davis – you were testifying against these murderers because they killed an 8-year-old girl, almost killed a 7 year old boy, and killed several other people. Considering how violent these men, and their friends, are you are indeed putting yourself at risk, but for the huge benefit of our safety.

    Thank You.

  • Just Sayin

    His mother should also be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.

  • guest

    Dear God…

  • Truth Sayer

    With a mother like that, he will more likely be a part of the thug culture when he is a few years older.

  • Heather_W_62

    Not to defend the defenseless, but it is possible the mother of this child was/is afraid for his safety — this could be why she didn’t want him to testify or say anything; it could also be that she is as much a part of the “no snitch” dogma as many are, even at the risk of her child. However, any child who grows up in a culture of violence and thuggery is very likely to become a participant in that environment. I really felt bad reading about this child’s testimony — the internal agony and fear it must be causing him. I can’t imagine.

  • Lynn

    We knew this little boy through school. He was very sweet, quiet and kind. He obviously knew right from wrong; so proud of his strength to tell the truth. It pains me to think he had to see all of this, and then testify. Just heartbreaking.

  • Mbfarrel

    The “no snitch” dogma gives a license to kill.

  • ozuluama

    A few years from now, I will have this kid sitting in my high school math class… He might act up, or he might just sit there and stare at me or the celling. He might be quiet, or yell nonsense… I won’t know how to deal with him because he won’t make sense. Still, the State of California will tell me I am guilty if the kid can’t learn Algebra I. Yes, I know… The mother and her (and his) family are the guilty ones… Still… I am supposed to make him a productive member of society…

    And to think they want to tie my raise to his performance in my classroom….

  • Bishop George Berkeley

    I’m thinking parking enforcement might be a good fit. Lots of alone time to focus on what raises you get, and no empathy expected of you.

  • bgal4

    Teachers are NOT therapists or social workers or parents.

  • ozuluama

    Before you embarrassed yourself any further, let me give you some info about me so you can really form an opinion. Right now, you can’t (believe me: you REALLY can’t).

    I was born in a farm in Mexico with no electricity and no running water. I was the last one of 7 kids, born to parents with no elementary school education. I got an engineering degree in Mexico, emigrated to USA, got married, got a master degree in secondary education in math, and I am in my 13 year of teaching math (10 years in middle school and 3 years in high school). I also teach remedial summer school for high school students who are unable to pass Algebra I during their normal school year.

    I choose to work in areas of low socio-economic level. When I moved up to high school, my school district offered me the option to work in the “highly desirable” areas: kids whose parents can afford tutors. I said “no, thank you”. I wanted to work with students who belong to my ethnic group, and for whom I am the more than a teacher. I am a role model. As one student (Eduardo) put in once: “you are the only Mexican (Hispanic) teacher I have met in my 8 years as a student in this country).

    Do I need to keep going?,

    This comment has been moderated

  • Gus

    I hardly think Concord is at a “low socioeconomic level.” it’s whiter and wealthier than Berkeley. Do you have any direct experience with Berkeley Unified School District? There are a number of Hispanic teachers in BUSD.

    Teaching is a noble profession, and I thank you for your service. But if you have a graduate degree and 13 years tenure, you’re making a pretty good salary. Mt. Diablo’s teachers’ union is very powerful, and the superintendent is not.

    No one is perfect, and you’re certainly not the only teacher who is contemptuous of certain of his students. But it’s clear that you lack compassion, so you will never be a truly great teacher. With your attitude toward low-achieving students it seems unlikely that you would even get hired at BUSD.

  • ozuluama

    Gus: since you took the time to find out the city where I worked, you need to realize that Concord, like all cities, has rich and poor areas. I assume Berkeley has them too. Fifty percent of the students attending my school are enrolled in the free-reduced price lunch. I assume that puts my school in the category of low-socioeconomic level. If you don’t agree with it, then talk to my school district.

    Pretty good salary, you say? When I left the private sector in 2000, I was making 50K a year. I started teaching making 34k. Right now, after all this time, and having gotten my master, I am in the 60k range. Is that a lot for you?

    I lack compassion, you say? I get to my school site at 7 AM every day to be able to tutor any kid who needs my help. By 7:30 AM, my room has at least 20 students who are either doing math homework, other projects or just hanging out. Classes don’t start until 8:15, by the way. During lunch, my doors are open to any student who either wants to eat there or eat and get tutoring. I am available any afternoon if my students want me to stay. My students consider me caring, knowledgable, passionate about my career and very protective of their safety and well being. I don’t really care what your opinion of me is. You don’t really know me.

    About BUSD… Who cares about a position in Stalin’s city, anyway?

  • Joserr

    Wow this went frome one child’s testemony. To who is the teacher of the year. Pitifullll

  • Greedy America

    this is a despicable statement and a person with your outlook on the youth should defiantly not be teaching. smh You remind me of my 6th grade teacher who told me I was going to be shot and never amount to anything. You know what, he was wrong and I am a college graduate with a career and member of society. Kids go through problems and the fight is to overcome them. Your job as a teacher is to help kids…Not to condemn them before they even have a chance.

  • ozuluama

    Greedy America: my outlook is not on the youth, but in a particular child coming from a particular family. The family has damaged him beyond repair. I can see you were not able to understand my point right from your first sentence.

    I don’t know why you compare me with your 6th grade teacher when I have never told a kid that he won’t amount to anything. I am not even saying that about this child. All I was saying is that we teachers get kids coming from families who did a horrible job in raising them and the State of California wants us, teachers, to perform miracles with them. Sorry you missed that too…

    If you are a college graduate, you need to take more classes in reading comprehension. You are doing a horrible job at getting the main idea out of my paragraph (and it is only ONE paragraph…)

    Yes, I have kids whose family stories I know… They have overcome some horrible things… Others haven’t been so lucky. Still (in case you haven’t gotten my point yet), the State of California doesn’t take the well being of the child into consideration when they want to tie their academic achievement to my job performance.

    My job as a teacher comes with the name: teach. I do that very well according to those kids who come to my room willing and ready to learn. Some, coming from families as horrible as the kid in the article, might want to learn but they have emotional issues way beyond of what any teacher (without a psychology degree) can fix. THAT was my point. Sorry you missed it. Thank you for the effort.