Category Archives: Crime

UC Berkeley

Man takes plea after beating 2 with bat at Berkeley frat

Police police cars outside the fraternity where a 20-year-old was found dead Nov. 9. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two years after being charged with attempted murder in connection with the beating with a metal bat of a pair of UC Berkeley students, an Oakland man has entered dual “no contest” pleas for assault with a deadly weapon.

Frank Paul Watson, 25, was arrested after the attack on April 27, 2014, which left two members of the Zeta Psi fraternity with significant injuries. Both were struck once in the head with the metal bat. One of the young men, Thayer White, suffered a traumatic brain injury. The other ended up needing reconstructive surgery to repair injuries to his face and jaw.

According to court papers, witnesses testified during the preliminary hearing — in December 2014 — that there had been a party that night at Zeta Psi, 2728 Bancroft Way. The party started Saturday night, April 26, and carried on into the early morning of Sunday. Three fraternity brothers, including the one who needed reconstructive surgery, testified about their memories of that night.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Guilty verdicts in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case

Alaysha Carradine, 8, and Anthony "Tone" Medearis, 22, were both killed in fatal shootings in 2013. Photos: Courtesy of family
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After nearly a month of testimony, followed by less than two full days of deliberations, an Alameda County jury brought back a series of guilty verdicts Friday afternoon in connection with two fatal shootings in 2013 that took the lives of an 8-year-old girl at an Oakland sleepover and a 22-year-old Berkeley father.

Scroll down for videos of family members reacting to the verdicts.

The jury found Darnell Williams Jr. guilty of all nine counts against him, including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. The guilty verdicts included three special circumstances — lying in wait, murder during the course of a robbery or attempted robbery, and multiple murders — that made the case eligible for the death penalty.

The jury is set to return May 16 to hear additional information from attorneys and consider the sentence in the case. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: 9 robberies in 2 days, video of restaurant robbery, armored van grant, fall from frat roof

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From April 14-20, there were reports of 12 robberies18 burglaries20 assaults or batteriesfive weapon-involved calls and three sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com and other BPD data. There were also six stolen vehicles15 disturbances and 19 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. No significant incidents were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD), so we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find our April 14-20 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

PEOPLE’S PARK PATROL AND MORE UCPD appears to have been doing some proactive patrols at People’s Park between about 6:50 and 8 p.m. April 21. Two officers handled a handful of calls involving marijuana, smoking violations, disturbing the peace, an open container and a welfare check. The officers spoke to about six men and one woman at the park about various violations but no arrests were made. On a side note, an hour or so later, at 9:20 p.m., one of those officers handled a suspicious circumstance at Wurster Hall “regarding the display of an art project.”

HATE INCIDENT UCPD responded to the Moffitt Library men’s bathroom April 25 after a 25-year-old male student reported a “hate incident involving vandalism.” The case is under investigation.

VANDALISM VIA MARKER UCPD is looking into a vandalism “via marker” to six UC vehicles at Edwards Stadium between April 29 and May 2.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man held to answer in Berkeley murder, carjacking case

A 2011 photograph of Kamau Berlin. Source: Facebook
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A 20-year-old man accused of murder with special circumstances was ordered Wednesday morning by an Alameda County Superior Court judge to face nearly all of the charges filed against him as the case moves ahead to trial.

 dismissed one count and one special circumstance related to rape allegations, and said the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to support those charges.

Kamau Berlin, who was a student at Berkeley Technology Academy at the time of his arrest, was ordered to return to court May 18 for arraignment as the case proceeds. He will continue to be held without bail, Burgess said.

Berlin told his mother he had just needed a ride home the day he was arrested near the car where 72-year-old Nancy McClellan was found bleeding from the neck due to a stab wound. Police testified that, when his mother insisted during a jailhouse interview that he tell her the truth of what had happened, he said he had seen a woman in a car, started hitting her to get her out of the car, and then threw her into the backseat.

He also mentioned to his mother having used brass knuckles during the attack, which ultimately helped police track down the murder weapon in the days after Berlin’s arrest.

At the time of his arrest, in September 2014, he told police a red substance on him that looked like blood was actually “fake blood for Halloween.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Attorneys spar over evidence in death penalty case

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis III mourned at the site of his shooting on Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A trail of 15 cartridge casings led from the scene of a dice game in West Berkeley toward the corner where Anthony “Tone” Medearis III was struck by a bullet, fatally, in the back.

The 22-year-old was running for his life and pleading for mercy as his killer followed behind him, walking, as he fired his gun over and over. It was Sept. 8, 2013, at about 5:40 p.m.

Two witnesses, including his own 7-year-old nephew, identified Darnell Williams Jr. as the shooter. Williams of Berkeley is facing murder charges for Medearis’ death, and what authorities have described as the retribution killing less than two months earlier of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a sleepover in Oakland.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Closing arguments took place Monday and Tuesday, as prosecutor John Brouhard walked the jury through his evidence, and Williams’ defense team urged jurors to question that evidence and keep their emotions in check.

“Means, motive and opportunity,” said defense attorney Darryl Billups. “I question all three of those things and I think the evidence raises an alternative to what the DA is alleging happened.”

After final instructions from Judge Jeffrey Horner, which are scheduled to conclude Wednesday morning, the jury is expected to begin deliberations in what could result in a death penalty sentence. … Continue reading »

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Police offer $10K reward in Grizzly Peak murder case

Police are looking for this man in connection with the homicide of Alberto Santana-Silva. Image: UCPD
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The University of California Police Department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murder of Alberto Santana-Silva, a 21-year-old Fremont student who was shot and killed after he intervened in an argument or disturbance between two groups of strangers on Grizzly Peak Boulevard three years ago.

Early in the morning of Sunday, May 12, 2013, Santana-Silva and his friends were in a vehicle turnout along the west shoulder of Grizzly Peak, overlooking the bay. Santana-Silva intervened in what appears to have been a fight among a group nearby that included the suspect, according to UCPD, who released a statement about the reward Tuesday.

The suspect and his friends left the area but returned a short time later with a handgun. The suspect confronted Santana-Silva as he sat in his own vehicle, preparing to leave. The suspect shot Santana-Silva, who drove a short distance before dying. His car came to rest in a ditch on the side of the road south of signpost 16 on Grizzly Peak, said UCPD. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Closing arguments begin in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case: ‘Alaysha saw her killer’ and he saw her

Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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After four weeks in trial, with 13 days of testimony and 36 witnesses, prosecutor John Brouhard began his closing arguments Monday in the double homicide case that could result in the death penalty for Darnell Williams Jr. if the jury finds him guilty.

Williams, 25, has been charged with eight felonies and several special circumstances in connection with the fatal shootings in 2013 of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in Oakland and 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III in Berkeley less than two months later.

“This defendant is committed to what he calls street justice,” Brouhard told the jury. He described how, bent on “retribution and revenge” after the killing of his friend Jermaine “Third” Davis in Berkeley, Williams set out to get back at the person he believed was responsible.

“He’s not grieving the death of his friend, he is preparing for war,” Brouhard told the jury. “He lured three children to a door and then he unleashed a barrage of gunfire when they least expected it.”

It was an emotional day for relatives of Alaysha and Medearis, as Brouhard described in detail the killings, played video from an officer’s body cam and flashed autopsy photographs on screens as part of his elaborate presentation. At one point, he set up a timer in front of jurors to illustrate just how long 3 minutes and 15 seconds could be: the time, he said, between when Williams’ phone had pinged off a tower near the apartment where Alaysha had been a guest at a sleepover, and the time the first 911 call about her shooting came in. … Continue reading »

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Emerson Elementary student finds gun, takes it to school

A classroom at Emerson Elementary in Berkeley (file photo). Photo: BUSD
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An Emerson Elementary student in Berkeley found a loaded gun and took it to school Monday, authorities have reported.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, an Emerson teacher discovered the student with the handgun. Staff took possession of the gun and called police to turn it in, said Lt. Dan Montgomery of BPD.

Montgomery said officers later responded to the boy’s home to learn more from him and his parents, “In large part to check on the safety and welfare of the child and to make sure there was no threat of violence in the future at the school.”

The boy told police he found the gun “near a neighborhood school while in the company of cousins.” Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged after lewd acts with 5-year-old in Berkeley

Image via Facebook
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A worker at a Berkeley home has been charged with four felony sex crimes after the child of a cleaning woman at that home said he touched her inappropriately.

The 5-year-old girl told her mother what had happened and, the next day, told a trained interviewer of children that he had touched her once before, too.

On April 5, according to court papers, the girl was at a home in South Berkeley where her mother was working as a house cleaner.

She told her mother that “the ‘man in the hat’ just touched her vagina and buttocks,” police wrote in court documents.

The woman told police there was only one man in the home who generally wore a hat, and who her daughter identified as such. The mother later identified that man to police during a photo line-up. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Jaywalkers beware, flyaway drone damage, pilfered postage stamps, found ammo, more

Police say this Ford was used in Monday's robbery. Photo: BPD
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From April 7-13, there were reports of eight robberies10 burglaries20 assaults or batteriesno weapon-involved calls and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 12 stolen vehicles16 disturbances and 29 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Two sex crimes were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals in this blotter are presumed innocent. Find our April 7-13 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

2 BOTCHED CAR THEFT ATTEMPTS AT BART A thief tried to steal a maroon 1994 Toyota Corolla while it was parked at the North Berkeley BART station between 4:15 a.m. and 9:45 p.m. April 14. The driver’s door lock and ignition were damaged. The same day, someone tried to steal another 1994 Toyota Corolla from the station between 8 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. The ignition wires were cut and the ignition switch was damaged.

STOLEN CROSS Someone stole a 12-inch brass crucifix worth $40 from 2223 Fulton, room H, sometime between March 10 and April 15, UCPD reported. It’s under investigation.

DRONE DAMAGE A security officer at the Doe Library on the UC Berkeley campus reported “damage to roof tiles caused by a fly away drone” April 20 at 5 p.m. The drone owner is listed as a 22-year-old male student. It’s under investigation, UCPD reports.

COFFEE COMMOTION? A female student reported being the victim of “battery via coffee” at about 10 a.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building on campus. A man in his 60s wearing brown clothing was reported to be the culprit. No further information was provided.

STEPPED UP TRAFFIC SAFETY ENFORCEMENT BPD plans to “step up pedestrian safety enforcement operations” Friday, April 29, with a focus on “pedestrian safety and collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians,” the department reported earlier this week. Police also said there will be more motorcycle officers on duty through June 31 “conducting enforcement and educational efforts based on data from prior collisions.” … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student arrested after fraternity rape report

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house on Piedmont Avenue
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Update, 4 p.m. The district attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case. According to office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, “Based upon a review of the evidence presented by the Berkeley Police Department, we have declined to file criminal charges.” Berkeleyside removed the student’s name, and several identifying details, in light of this new information.

Original story, 7 a.m. Authorities have arrested a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student on suspicion of rape in connection with a case from earlier this year reported to have taken place at a fraternity party near campus.

The Berkeley Police Department arrested the young man at 7 a.m. Thursday after serving a search warrant at his fraternity house at 2395 Piedmont Ave., at Channing Way, authorities said.

UCPD identifies that location as Phi Gamma Delta, a fraternity that is not officially recognized by the CalGreeks organization.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, BPD spokesman, said the arrest was in connection with “an on-going sexual assault investigation.”

According to a statement released by UCPD on Feb. 22, the victim had attended a party at a fraternity house in the 2300 block of Piedmont three days earlier, on Friday, Feb. 19. The sexual assault took place between midnight and 12:45 a.m. Saturday in a room at the fraternity, which was not named.

According to the UCPD statement, “a report was made to a Campus Security Authority who is required under the Federal Clery Act to report it to the campus Clery Compliance Officer. UCPD is in turn required to alert our community of the crime.” … Continue reading »

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Police arrest 3 after armed, masked restaurant robbery series, 9 in Berkeley

Approximate, block-level, locations of seven of the nine restaurant robberies in March and April. Source: CrimeMapping/Berkeleyside
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Police arrested three men Friday after an investigation into a series of robberies that saw armed, masked perpetrators holding up a total of 23 restaurants in the Bay Area, nine of which were in Berkeley.

The “take-over-style” robberies began at the beginning of March, according to a Nixle alert sent out by BPD at around 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, spokesman for BPD, said the suspects were masked and had guns. He described a “take-over-style” robbery as those using  “force and fear.”

The three men arrested were Kristoffer Jones, 18, of Albany; Shawan Spragans, 40, of Oakland; and Merl Simpson, 46, also of Oakland.

The 23 restaurants — primarily in Berkeley, San Francisco, San Leandro, Albany, Oakland and Hayward — were being targeted shortly before, or just after, closing time by the same suspects, according to the BPD statement.

The break in the case came just after midnight Friday, April 22, when the men attempted to rob a bar in San Francisco that was under surveillance by the San Francisco Police Department. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Sister of man charged with 2 murders takes the stand

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO
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The older sister of a Berkeley man who could face the death penalty if found guilty of two fatal shootings in 2013 testified on his behalf Monday, but her testimony may have done more harm than good.

Chastity Williams, sister of Darnell Williams Jr., told the jury why she instructed her son — struck by a fragment from a bullet he said his uncle fired — not to talk to police about what he’d seen. She also disputed her son’s story that he would get “a whuppin” if he didn’t keep quiet.

“He fibs,” she said of her son, who was 7 at the time of shooting. As to why she told him not to speak with police, she said: “As a parent, I wanted to figure out what was going on first before Elliot spoke to anyone. He’s a kid. Why would I want to put my child through that?”

On cross-examination, however, Williams admitted to having told police her son was “very accurate.” She repeatedly changed her story and tried to explain inconsistencies in her statements. Direct examination, by the defense, lasted less than 15 minutes. Prosecutor John Brouhard then questioned her for nearly two hours on cross-examination.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Williams said her son made up the threat of a beating to try to stop authorities from questioning him after the Sept. 8, 2013, shooting that killed 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III in West Berkeley. Police arrested Darnell Williams, then 22, near the scene. The two young men were both familiar faces in what some who live in the area call “the Waterfront” neighborhood and hung out with the same friends.

Defense attorney Darryl Billups, who called Chastity Williams, 27, to the stand, asked if she had been trying to protect her brother when she told her son not to speak with police. She said that had not been her goal.

When she walked up to the stand Monday morning, Williams gave a little wave and smile to her younger brother as he sat at the defense table. Seeing the friendly face was likely a change for the defendant, who has not had any apparent supporters in the courtroom over the past month. … Continue reading »

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