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Berkeley police believe they have solved the 2006 slaying of a popular former Berkeley High School student with the arrest Thursday of a man already in prison for robbery.Keith Stephens, 24, was found shot to death in front of a friend’s home in the 1200 block of Carrison Street in southwest Berkeley on Feb. 19, 2006.Berkeley homicide detectives served an arrest warrant for murder Thursday on 28-year-old Bahsson Carl Smith, who has been in prison in Folsom since February 2007, according to police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office has charged him with murder. “Certainly, we’re very relieved to have closed this case,” Kusmiss said today. “Particularly the opportunity to share the news with family, because we know that they have been suspended in time for over three years now about this.”Stephens, 24, was a former Berkeley High School student and junior college football player. He was described as very popular and was one of three Berkeley High graduates in 2000 profiled in the book “Class Dismissed.” Following the shooting, Stephens’ family “strongly believed they knew who had shot their son and brother,” Kusmiss said, noting their frustration about the pace of the investigation.”
We understand that,” she said.But though police developed strong leads after the crime, they did not have enough evidence or cooperative witnesses to make an arrest, Kusmiss said.Smith did not become a suspect until recently, she said.”We were able to speak with a witness who had previously been reluctant to participate in the investigation, and he identified Smith as being involved in the crime,” Kusmiss said.Police have not yet confirmed a motive for Stephens’ killing.”The family has had a theory that they shared with us that there was some argument over a car,” she said. Kusmiss said Smith was responsible for a series of robberies in Berkeley’s south campus area between November 2006 and February 2007, when he was convicted and sent to prison.
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