Anthony Medearis' aunt wore a lanyard and memorial photograph of her nephew to court this week. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Anthony Medearis’ aunt wore a lanyard and memorial photograph of her nephew to court this week. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The 7-year-old nephew of a man charged with killing Berkeley father Anthony “Lil Tone” Medearis III in September reluctantly took the stand in a hearing Tuesday to determine whether a trial against Medearis’ accused killer can proceed.

Twenty-two-year-old Darnell Williams Jr. of Oakland is facing murder charges for Medearis’ killing, which authorities said took place after the two men got into a fight after a dice game in West Berkeley on Sept. 8 near Eighth and Camelia streets.

Williams and his friend Laquana Nuno, 28, have been charged with murder in the Medearis case. Their cases are not being tried together at this time, however. (Nuno is alleged only to have given Williams a ride after the shooting of 22-year-old Medearis. She is in custody on murder charges, nonetheless, and scheduled to testify Wednesday.)

The jointly scheduled preliminary hearing for Williams and another man, Joseph Carroll Jr., is taking place this week in connection with the Medearis killing and a retribution shooting that left 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine dead in Oakland on July 17.

Authorities announced in October that Williams had killed Carradine, and indicated that Carroll had helped plan that attack. Authorities have said the shooting was revenge for the July 17, 2013, killing in Berkeley of Jermaine Davis, which itself may well have been the result of a longstanding feud between Oakland and Berkeley gangs. (Update: This was later shown to be false.)

The same night Carradine was killed, authorities say Carroll tracked down Antiown “Twanny” York, intending to kill him in Antioch due to a belief that York had killed Davis. After a confrontation, however, Carroll is alleged to have let York go. Authorities said Carroll and Williams later continued trying to find York to kill him.

Berkeley Police announced York’s arrest in connection with the Davis case Tuesday.

Authorities have not claimed any connection between Carroll, 27, and the Medearis shooting.

Caught between two worlds

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, via NBC Bay Area

Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay heard testimony in connection with both killings Tuesday, as the hearing began to determine whether there is enough evidence for the cases to move forward to trial. Testimony is expected to continue throughout the week.

The 7-year-old boy who testified Tuesday — before the judge, several attorneys, the two defendants and a courtroom audience of about 15 — was identified as Williams’ nephew. Authorities said Williams took the boy to the dice game in Berkeley where Medearis ultimately was shot and killed. The second-grader received a grazing gunshot wound beneath his eye after a fight broke out between Williams and Medearis, authorities said.

In fractured testimony, the boy told deputy district attorney John J. Brouhard that the two men had argued, that Medearis had called for help and that Williams had followed Medearis out of sight with a black gun. The boy said he heard numerous gunshots.

The boy — who wore a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie — answered many of Brouhard’s questions saying “I don’t know,” or that he didn’t remember, in response to questions Brouhard said the boy had previously, even recently, answered during prior interviews with authorities.

As his uncle watched him carefully, the boy ultimately admitted he was afraid to tell the full truth in court. He said, in response to Brouhard’s questions, that Williams had shown him a gun in the boy’s bedroom and told him not to tell anybody about what he knew. (Prior to his incarceration Sept. 8, Williams had lived in the same Oakland home with his sister — the boy’s mother, as well as the boy’s baby sister and grandfather.)

The boy also said his mother told him, while they were in the hospital during treatment for the gunshot wound he sustained in the shooting that killed Medearis, not to say anything to anyone about what had happened.

As the questioning continued, the boy became increasingly nervous, pressing his clenched fist against his face and, eventually, nearly covering his eyes with his open palm as he spoke. When he finished his testimony, he presented a colorful hand-made drawing — unrelated to the proceedings — to the judge, then got down off the stand. Facing forward as he walked, he didn’t look at his uncle as he left the courtroom. Williams turned to follow the boy’s exit with his gaze, his face expressionless.

A second reticent witness to the Berkeley killing also took the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Ramon Davis, who lives near where the Medearis shooting took place, said he was drawn outside by “a bunch of ruckus” on Sept. 8. From his apartment, he said hesitantly, he saw Williams and Medearis in a physical fight. He heard Medearis say, “You trippin’,” and saw Medearis beating on Williams as Williams fought back.

Moments later, he heard Medearis “screaming for dear life” as he ran down a driveway, away from the area of the dice game, toward Eighth Street. Williams followed and pulled out a gun, Davis said.

According to a transcript referenced by prosecutor Brouhard, Davis previously told police Medearis had said, “Help me, help me, he’s fittin’ to shoot me,” that Williams then started shooting at Medearis, and that it sounded like he emptied “damn near the whole clip.” Brouhard also said Davis told police he had seen Williams at a friend’s funeral previously, and had recognized him by what looked like “devil horn” tattoos on his face.

Tuesday, Davis denied making those statements, said he didn’t know anything about guns, hadn’t seen the actual shooting, and had seen Williams for the first time the day of the shooting.

After he heard the first shot, he testified Tuesday, he’d quickly gone inside.

Davis mumbled and exhaled heavily during much of his testimony. In response to numerous requests from attorneys to repeat himself, he described himself as upset, nervous and scared. Throughout his nearly 75-minute testimony, his leg and body shook in tremors. At times he pounded his fist on his knee. Davis said several times that he’d been forced to speak with police, and that he didn’t want to continue to answer questions from attorneys.

“I was minding my own business,” he insisted, adding later, “I can’t believe I’m up here doing this, rattin’ on somebody.”

8-year-old girl to paramedic: “I’m dead”

Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family

The rest of the day Tuesday was devoted to witness testimony about the high-profile shooting in Oakland of Alaysha Carradine, two young friends, and their grandmother, Clara Fields, hours after Jermaine Davis was killed in Berkeley on July 17, 2013. Carradine died as a result.

Authorities have said she was caught in the crossfire as Williams and Carroll attempted to pay back Antiown York, who they believed shot and killed their comrade Jermaine Davis in Berkeley last year. Carradine was at a sleepover at the home of York’s children and their grandmother at the time of the shooting.

Fields, Brea Colbert (the mother of the siblings who were shot), and one of the young shooting victims herself, testified Tuesday, along with an Oakland police officer who responded first to the scene and carried the injured Carradine outside to paramedics. Footage from his chest camera as he arrived at the home and found the victims was played in court.

Alameda County paramedic Julie Silva testified that she arrived at the home, in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue, at 11:25 p.m. to see Carradine being carried outside in the arms of that officer, Jason Mitchell.

Silva took the little girl from him, noticing a gunshot wound at the base of her neck, and carried her back to the ambulance. She found a second injury, to her back in the shoulder blade area, as she began to render aid to the child.

Carradine was “minimally responsive,” able to tell Silva her name, and was aware she’d been shot, the paramedic said.

As they headed for Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, Silva recounted some of the girl’s final words. Carradine’s mother, Chiquita Carradine, sobbed in the courtroom gallery as she listened.

“As we were nearing Children’s Hospital, she let out a haunting scream at the top of her lungs,” saying “I’m dead,” Silva testified. “I said, ‘No, baby girl… you’re hurt.”

Silva told Carradine they were on the way to the doctor for help.

“The doctor? Then I’m dying, I’m dying,” Silva recalls the 8-year-old telling her.

Silva said, after getting to the hospital, she stayed in the trauma room as doctors tried to save Carradine’s life. When it got to be too much, she would leave the room. But she said she was there when the child ultimately was pronounced dead.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “Very difficult to deal with.”

Testimony in the case is set to continue Wednesday.

Read more about the Medearis and Davis homicides on Berkeleyside. 

Breaking: Police announce arrest in Berkeley homicide (01.07.14)
Robbery attempt led to Medearis killing; 2 charged (10.01.13)
‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley (10.01.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Murdered man was brother of man killed by gangs in 2009 (07.18.13)
Breaking: Man shot and killed on Derby Street in Berkeley (07.17.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley police make second arrest in murder (11.01.10)
Shooting on Alcatraz Avenue (10.30.10)
Berkeley police arrest man suspected of murder (10.28.10)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...