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.
Prosecutor John Brouhard said Williams was on a “rampage of violence” over the fatal shooting of a close friend in July 2013 when he opened fire at the home of the family of the man he believed was responsible. That shooting led to the death of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, who had been a guest at a sleepover there. Less than two months later, according to Brouhard, Williams attempted to rob then fatally shot Anthony “Tone” Medearis III, 22; they had been involved for much of their lives with the same group of friends in West Berkeley’s Waterfront neighborhood.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office said — in response to a general inquiry for data earlier this week — this is the first time since Nancy O’Malley took office in 2009 that her office has sought the death penalty.
The Special Circumstance Committee, the body that considers that option, has reviewed 103 eligible cases but had elected to seek it just once as of April 20, said office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, speaking generally.
(Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner issued a gag order in the case to keep attorneys from discussing it.)
The reading of the verdicts took nearly 30 minutes and had concluded by about 2 p.m. Members of the district attorney’s office rushed off family members of Alaysha and Medearis after the verdicts were read. They said the families wanted privacy.
Several relatives and supporters of Alaysha stopped briefly outside the courtroom to say they were happy with the decision. And an aunt of Medearis said family members would be willing to speak more after the penalty phase of the trial concludes. (See the videos below.)
“We just got closure today,” said Jackie Winters, the aunt of Medearis, who has been a near-daily fixture at the proceedings throughout the past month. “We appreciate the closure.”
(This story was updated after publication to reflect new information.)
Attorneys spar over evidence in death penalty case (05.04.16)
Closing arguments begin in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case (05.03.16)
Sister of man charged with 2 murders takes the stand (04.26.16)
Berkeley killings get spotlight in death penalty case (04.25.16)
Newly found photo could bolster prosecution’s case in death penalty trial (04.15.16)
Ex-girlfriend of accused killer: ‘I feel scared to this day’ (04.11.16)
Judge orders Williams trial to continue after defendant threatens suicide, violence (04.04.16)
Years on, Alaysha Carradine killing is still haunting (03.31.16)
Defense says lack of evidence will cast doubt in double murder trial (03.29.16)
Prosecutor: Berkeley killing sparked ‘rampage of violence’ that left little girl dead (03.29.16)
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