Tag Archives: Berkeley crime

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 investigating a homicide on Grizzly Peak Boulevard early this morning. A reader shared this photograph, just above the kids train area, and said cars are not being allowed to pass. Photo: A citizen reporter
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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 Berkeley home on Woolsey Street 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 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, 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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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, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
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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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Crime

Berkeley killings get spotlight in death penalty case

Anthony Medearis' aunt wore a lanyard and memorial photograph of her nephew to court this week. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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One month into the trial of a Berkeley man charged with two murders, who could face the death penalty, his defense attorneys are slated to begin to present evidence to the jury Monday.

Darnell Williams Jr., 25, is accused of killing 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, who happened to be a guest at a sleepover at an apartment targeted by a man the prosecution has said was bent on revenge for the killing in Berkeley earlier that day — July 17, 2013 — of a close friend.

Less than two months later, Sept. 8, authorities say Williams opened fire on 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III as Medearis ran from him, pleading for his life. The two were fixtures in the same West Berkeley neighborhood and hung out with the same group of friends. Authorities have said Williams planned to rob Medearis and considered him a snitch who deserved to die for talking to the police.

Alaysha’s killing — described by the prosecution as the intentional gunning down of children — horrified the broader Bay Area community. Medearis’ shooting, though heinous and senseless, did not strike the same chord. His family, a near-daily presence in the courtroom, has been the first to acknowledge it. But they’ve said they’ve come to see Medearis’ death as a path to justice for Alaysha.

“My baby was an angel,” said Medearis’ mother, Dolanda Medearis, during a recent break from court. “Had he [Williams] not killed him, he could have gotten away with killing that 8-year-old girl.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Boyfriend charged with attempted murder after double shooting in Berkeley

Police watch over the scene where two people were shot on Tremont Street, near Prince Street, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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A San Jose man has been charged with shooting his girlfriend in the head and opening fire on her male friend as the two sat in a car in South Berkeley in mid-March.

Anthony Burton, 44, was charged Thursday by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with six felonies: two counts of attempted murder; corporal injury to a relationship partner; assault with a semiautomatic weapon; shooting at an occupied motor vehicle; and possession of a firearm by a felon.

According to court papers, Burton shot his girlfriend in the head, and her male friend “about five times in the face and body,” as they sat in a car on Tremont Street near Prince Street, not far from the Ashby BART station.

Both victims survived but are still recovering, police said last week. Police have not released many details about the case. According to court papers, investigators identified Burton as the shooter, and noted that he was in a dating relationship with the female victim.  … Continue reading »

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3 teens arrested after Berkeley student fights downtown

Police responded to downtown Berkeley on Thursday for youth fighting. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
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Is it just that time of year again? Three high-school-aged students were arrested Thursday after fights broke out among youth in downtown Berkeley, authorities said.

Berkeleyside was reporting similar news last year in April.

Lt. Alyson Hart, the Berkeley Police watch commander Thursday evening, said there had been some type of disturbance at lunch involving Berkeley High School students, leading school and police authorities to be on alert when BHS let out due to rumors that problems would continue.

Not long after school ended for the day, at 3:30 p.m., Hart said police received numerous reports of youth fighting downtown. There were multiple groups of students who were “running around everywhere.”

Originally, the BART Police asked for help to handle reports of fighting on the platform at the downtown Berkeley station.

“There were a bunch of little different skirmishes or reports,” Hart said. “Around City Hall also.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Teen raped on Grizzly Peak, high-speed chase on Dohr, fake report of shooter on campus, more

A reader asked Berkeleyside: "Why are there 10 cop cars necessary  for this biz?" Photo: Dana Kleinhesselink
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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 March 31 to April 6, there were reports of six robberies19 burglaries11 assaults or batteriesthree weapon-involved calls and two sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also eight stolen vehicles21 disturbances and 28 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A sex crime, a burglary and three vehicle thefts were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals in this blotter are presumed innocent. Find our March 31 to April 6 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

DISCONNECTING PHONES ON THE BART TRACKS Tuesday at about 11:30 p.m. officers responded to both Berkeley BART stations for a man walking on the tracks while intoxicated and disconnecting emergency phones along the way, the BART Police reported. “Power was shut down on both track ways, and medical personnel staged as officers eventually managed to safely detain the suspect in the underground tunnel/track way between the two stations. Officers determined the suspect was too intoxicated to care for himself, in addition to his trespassing on the track way, and placed him under arrest for both violations. As a precaution, medical personnel cleared the suspect before he was booked into the Berkeley City Jail. Due to this incident, trains were delayed for approximately 30 minutes; nothing unusual was located on the incident track way.” The man’s name was not released. … Continue reading »

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