Tag Archives: Homicide in Berkeley
After suddenly announcing Wednesday that convicted murderer Darnell Williams Jr. would testify on his own behalf, the defense team backtracked Thursday morning with the brief announcement that it would instead rest its case.
The disappointment in the courtroom was palpable, as relatives and supporters of Williams’ two murder victims, along with other attorneys and interested spectators, had come to court to hear what he had to say.
At least some members of the jury appeared miffed they had made the trip to court for nothing.
“I knew your sucka ass weren’t going to get up there,” the sister of Anthony Medearis III — one of Williams’ two victims — yelled at him as she left the courtroom. Court staff told her she could not return for the remainder of the trial. … Continue reading »
Minutes after a forensic psychologist described the extensive and longstanding impulse-control problems exhibited by convicted murderer Darnell Williams Jr., he suddenly announced through his attorneys that he plans to take the stand in his own defense.
His attorneys said it wasn’t the first time they had discussed the subject, but were not expecting the announcement Wednesday, just as they were about to rest their case in the “penalty phase” of the trial.
At the end of testimony, the Alameda County jury that found Williams guilty earlier this month of two murders will make a sentencing recommendation to Judge Jeffrey Horner: either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The two-person defense team had just completed questioning the woman they said would be their final witness — forensic psychologist Gretchen White — when the attorneys and judge said they needed to have a brief discussion out of the presence of the jury.
Read complete coverage of the case.
The judge had already told jurors they would be excused until Tuesday morning, when attorneys would present their closing statements. … Continue reading »
Despite knowing he would be arrested as a result, the father of a convicted murderer came to court Tuesday to ask for mercy for his son, who could face the death penalty after being found guilty earlier this month of gunning down two people, including a child, in 2013.
Darnell Williams Sr., 49, told the Alameda County jury charged with recommending a sentence for his son that he had not been a good father. He was locked up more than a dozen times, was in a prison gang called the Black Guerrilla Family, and has been addicted to drugs, including crack cocaine. He dropped out of high school after 10th grade.
The elder Williams, who is currently on parole, said he wanted to share “anything I can say that could save my son. I’m here to see and apologize to my son… for not being a good dad. And I was a drug addict and I stayed in prison.”
He said he missed his son’s birth because he was “on drugs real bad,” and regretted missing his son’s life and his football games.
“I never wanted [him] to be nothing like me,” he said.
The elder Williams said he expected to be taken into custody — on a warrant for a parole violation — after his testimony. He was on the stand for less than 15 minutes. After he stepped down, he looked at his son and mouthed the words, “Love you, man.” Officers from the district attorney’s office took the elder Williams into custody outside the courtroom after he hugged his brother, who had testified earlier in the day. … Continue reading »
A Berkeley man found guilty of two murders earlier this month, who could face the death penalty, asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge Monday to dismiss the jury and make his own ruling on sentencing.
Both attorneys for 25-year-old Darnell Williams Jr. strongly advised him not to waive his rights to a jury trial, they said. But Williams had other ideas.
“He would like the proceedings to end,” defense attorney Deborah Levy told Judge Jeffrey Horner on Monday afternoon. He said he would waive his rights and accept the judge’s sentence, said Levy, adding, “The death sentence is fine with him.”
Defense attorney Darryl Billups told the judge he had advised Williams he “didn’t think it was a good idea” to waive the jury trial, which is designed to lead to a sentencing recommendation for the judge. The jury is slated to decide between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.
The jury was not present when the attorneys made the request to Horner on their client’s behalf. … Continue reading »
Darnell Williams Jr., found guilty earlier this month of two murders and several special circumstances, had a history of violent attacks both in and out of prison that make the death penalty the appropriate sentence for him, the prosecution said Monday.
In the next phase of the case, attorneys are set to present evidence to show aggravating and mitigating circumstances they hope will help an Alameda County jury decide what sort of sentence to recommend for 25-year-old Williams. He could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2009, nearly four years before the 2013 murders of Alaysha Carradine and Anthony “Tone” Medearis III, Williams tried to shoot down a childhood friend on Oregon Street after his own father ordered him to do it, prosecutor John Brouhard told the jury Monday during opening statements.
Read complete coverage of the case.
That was followed by three attacks on fellow inmates while he was locked up, the violation of his parole terms due to gun possession once he was released, and the discovery of a long shank in his cell during a surprise search once he was sent back to jail after his arrest in September 2013, Brouhard said.
Williams had been out of prison for about a month, following the earlier shooting attempt in Berkeley, when he gunned down 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at an Oakland sleepover. … Continue reading »
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 »
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.
Judge Rhonda Burgess 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.
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.
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 »
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 »
Closing arguments begin in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case: ‘Alaysha saw her killer’ and he saw her
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 »
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.
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 »
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 »
A Berkeley man facing multiple murder charges may have inadvertently tipped off the prosecution to a notable piece of evidence by insisting he get access to material on his old cellphone.
Police had confiscated the phone of Darnell Williams Jr. at the time of his arrest in Berkeley in 2013. He has been charged with the murders of an 8-year-old girl in Oakland and a 22-year-old father with ties to the same West Berkeley neighborhood where Williams lived. The trial began two weeks ago. If convicted, Williams could face the death penalty.
Thursday, after excusing the jury until Tuesday morning, attorneys and Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner stayed on in the courtroom to update the written record following two conversations they’d had earlier in chambers.
The defendant’s cellphone was the topic of those conversations. The defense team had, for some time, been pushing prosecutor John Brouhard to turn over all material from the phone at their client’s urging. Police had tried in the past to download texts and other information from it, but been stymied by technical difficulties.
Defense attorneys “thought it was a really stupid and bad idea”
This week, the Fremont Police Department was able to download the entirety of the phone contents. Brouhard said a review of those records led to the discovery of a photograph that shows a pistol that could have been used to kill 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in July 2013. She had been playing at a friend’s house during a sleepover and was not the intended target. Three other people, two children and their grandmother, were injured. … Continue reading »