Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
Darnell Williams Jr. Photo: Courtesy of NBC Bay Area

Unreliable statements and a lack of evidence will show the jury Darnell Williams Jr. did not commit the two killings, in Berkeley and Oakland, for which he is standing trial this week, his defense attorney said Tuesday morning.

In her brief opening statements, before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner, defense attorney Deborah Levy urged the jury not to be swayed by the “horrific, horrible, horrendous, heartbreaking homicide of a young 8-year-old girl.”

Levy said the jury should “listen to what is not there” in the prosecution’s case: no DNA, no fingerprints, no murder weapons and no eyewitnesses who identified Williams as the person responsible for the shooting in Oakland of three children and a grandmother, which left Alaysha Carradine dead July 17, 2013.

Read about the prosecution’s opening statements.

Levy said the prosecution’s two main witnesses in the case are prostitutes who may have had their own reasons to lie. Prosecutor John Brouhard told the jury Monday that Williams told both women he committed the Oakland shooting.

“Those two statements are not sufficient … to prove Mr. Williams is responsible,” Levy told the jury.

She said other people would have been even more motivated than her client to have gone to Oakland to commit the shooting, which the prosecution says was in retaliation for the fatal shooting in Berkeley of Jermaine Davis several hours earlier.

Levy named Joseph Carroll Jr., Davis’ cousin, as one of those individuals. She also named Laquana Nuño, Davis’ girlfriend at the time of his death, as another possibility. Nuño at one time faced charges alongside Williams that she helped him with a later killing in West Berkeley, of Anthony Medearis III, but charges were reduced after she agreed to testify for the prosecution against him.

Williams is facing murder charges for the deaths of both Carradine and Medearis. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death, or life without the possibility of parole.

Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family
Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family

The killing of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, who was a visitor at a sleepover at the home authorities say was targeted with violence after Davis’ shooting, horrified Bay Area residents. The gunman opened fire on three children as they opened the door in response to the sound of the doorbell.

“We all want to find somebody and blame somebody,” Levy told the jury. “It’s heart-wrenching, but that doesn’t give you any information for who is responsible for shooting through that door.”

Levy said police matched no casings from either shooting scene to any weapons found with her client, or that were otherwise recovered.

She asked the jury to pay close attention to the evidence, which she said could not ultimately show that Williams was responsible “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Levy’s understated opening statements, which lasted less than 30 minutes, were in stark contrast to the horrific scenes described in dramatic fashion Monday by prosecutor Brouhard. His presentation to the jury lasted from about 10 a.m. to nearly 4 p.m., on either side of a 90-minute lunch recess.

Tuesday morning, testimony began in the prosecution’s case. First-responders to the Dimond District apartment where the July 2013 shooting took place took the stand. Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage.

Prosecutor: Berkeley killing sparked ‘rampage of violence’ that left little girl dead (03.29.16)
Case dismissed in Jermaine Davis homicide (09.17.14)
4 with Berkeley ties held to answer in alleged murder plot (04.10.14)
Alleged murder plot hearing set to end this week (04.01.14)
4 men with Berkeley ties face murder plot charge (03.26.14)
1 held to answer in Berkeley murder of ‘Lil Tone’ (01.13.14)
‘Snitch’ rumor leads to Berkeley dad’s murder (01.09.14)
2 testify in Berkeley murder hearing against Oakland man (01.08.14)
Police announce arrest in Berkeley homicide (01.07.14)
Berkeley community turns out for march against violence (10.08.13)
Robbery attempt led to Medearis killing; 2 charged (10.01.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Killed man was brother of man killed by gangs in 2009 (07.18.13)
Man shot and killed on Derby Street in Berkeley (07.17.13)

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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...