Crime

Breaking: Charges filed against 2 in Berkeley homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley’s first homicide victim of 2014, Sylvan Fuselier, lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The Berkeley Police Department has arrested two people in the city’s only homicide so far this year, authorities said Wednesday.

Police have arrested Berkeley couple Kneitawnye Trishawn Sessoms, 40, and Michael Diggs, 28. Sessoms was arrested Monday, March 31, at 7 p.m., according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department. Diggs has been in custody since March 12 when he was picked up for a parole violation, according to the sheriff’s department.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has filed murder charges against Sessoms and Diggs for the killing of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier in February, police said. Police discovered Fuselier’s body in his apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street after getting called to check on him after concerns were reported about his whereabouts.

Police were called to do a welfare check on Fuselier on Friday, Feb. 28, shortly before noon, at which point they found his body. Later in the day, they determined the death to have been a homicide.

Read full Berkeleyside coverage of the case.

A longtime neighborhood resident told Berkeleyside that the man’s girlfriend had come to the building that day to ask the landlord if he had seen the man, having been unable to reach him for a week. The resident said it was the landlord who then called police to investigate.

Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson said Wednesday that investigators are not releasing the Berkeley couple’s relationship to Fuselier at this time.

Fuselier was killed with a “sharp instrument,” according to authorities.

Police say they are not searching for any additional suspects in the investigation.

Police believe Fuselier died Saturday, Feb. 22, about a week before his body was found.

In a written statement about the arrest, the Berkeley Police Department thanked the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory, state Department of Justice, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigative Services and the Serological Research Institute “for their assistance in this investigation.”

Neighbors said that, previously, they had been troubled by frequent disturbances in Fuselier’s apartment, from extended bouts of “screaming and fighting” to early morning outbursts and “really loud,” rapid talking from at least one of the man’s associates.

Some of his neighbors — who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns — said Fuselier had lived in his second-floor apartment in a four-unit building on Addison for at least five years.

The San Francisco Chronicle identified victim Fuselier in March as a suspect in a string of 14 robberies of businesses in Berkeley and Oakland that took place in the 90s. The robberies began in September 1994, and stood out because the suspect in those cases would deliver polite notes to store clerks asking them to turn over whatever cash was in the register.

According to the sheriff’s department, Sessoms is being held without bail at Berkeley Jail. She is scheduled for arraignment April 3 in Department 112 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland at 2 p.m.

Diggs is scheduled for a hearing to revoke his parole April 4. The homicide charge has not yet been added to his online record with the sheriff’s department.

Berkeley had four homicides in 2013, and defendants have been charged with murder in all four cases. The prior year, there were six, with no arrests reported in three of the cases. In 2011, Berkeley had just one homicide, which also remains unsolved.

Related:
Breaking: 1 held, 1 freed in Berkeley hatchet homicide (10.23.14)
Police release ID of city’s first homicide victim of year (03.06.14)
Berkeley neighbors express concerns after recent homicide (03.05.14)
Berkeley police investigating homicide on Addison Street (03.01.14)

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  • guest

    >Kneitawnye Trishawn Sessoms

    Oh, lord.

  • guest

    Apparently the victim was once a suspect in a string of robberies.

    Perhaps the perps thought he had a hidden stash of cash?

    A man and his girlfriend were charged Thursday with
    special-circumstances murder in the hatchet killing of a Berkeley man
    once suspected of being a bandit known as the “Noteman” for the polite
    demand notes he presented to his victims.

    Michael Diggs, 28, and his girlfriend Kneitawnye Sessoms, 40, both of Berkeley, allegedly killed Sylvan Fuselier, 54, who was found dead Feb. 28 in his apartment on the 1100 block of Addison Street just east of San Pablo Avenue.

    In 1996, Fuselier was arrested on suspicion of pulling off a string
    of at least 14 robberies at businesses in Berkeley and five in Oakland
    beginning in September 1994.

    The robber never brandished a gun. Instead, he handed clerks concise demand notes after chatting with them, police said.

    http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Couple-charged-in-hatchet-killing-of-Noteman-5371932.php

  • EBGuy

    BTW, chalk one up for the surveillance society as a camera in the building captured the perpetrators comings and goings.

  • Jesk

    They were my friends…… I lived with her…… Oh god.