General Crime

* Oakland Jury Begins Delieration For 31-Year-Old Kenneth Washington Of Fairfield For Murder Of 19-Year Old Jessica Birden

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An Alameda County jury today began deliberating the fate of a convicted killer who’s accused of murdering a 19-year-old woman in the Oakland hills on New Year’s Day 2008 and sexually assaulting another 19-year-old woman eight days earlier. In his rebuttal closing argument in the trial of 31-year-old Kenneth Washington of Fairfield, Deputy District Attorney Paul Delucchi asked jurors to convict Washington of murdering 19-year-old Jessica Birden, whose badly beaten body was found by a hiker on a trail in the King Estates recreation area off Crest Avenue in Oakland shortly after 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2008.Delucchi also asked jurors to convict Washington of six felony counts for sexually assaulting the other 19-year-old woman at a house in East Oakland on Dec. 24, 2007.In her closing argument on Wednesday, Washington’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Bonnie Narby, said she thinks there is reasonable doubt about whether Washington was the person who killed Birden.Narby also said Washington should be acquitted of sexually assaulting the other woman because she thinks the sex was consensual.But Delucchi said he believes the evidence clearly shows that Washington murdered Birden and sexually assaulted the other woman.Washington has a prior voluntary manslaughter conviction for shooting and killing a man in El Cerrito in June 1997.He served seven years in state prison but was then paroled.The woman who allegedly was sexually assaulted by Washington testified that she met Washington on the street while she was on her way to a recording studio in East Oakland on Dec. 23, 2007, and agreed to meet him the next day.The woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe, said Washington picked her up at her friend’s house, drove her to the Oakland hills and then they wound up at a house in East Oakland. Washington was “really friendly and helpful” and was “a good listener” as she talked about her life but he suddenly turned angry when she sang a rap song that she had just composed that mentioned a prison gang, she said.The woman said Washington forced her to take off her clothes and then forced her to have sex with him. He then allegedly ordered her to take a bath with him.She said that when she asked why, Washington said, “This is so when I kill you they won’t find my DNA.”Washington is charged with forced oral copulation, sodomy, rape, unlawful penetration with a foreign object, attempted torture and false imprisonment in connection with the alleged attack.Birden died on Jan. 4, 2008, three days later after she was discovered. Washington was arrested in Vacaville later that same day. Oakland police Cmdr. Jeff Loman said at a news conference four days later that police believed they arrested Washington just in time, as a 16-year-old girl was with him and police believe he planned to attack her as well.

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