General Crime

* Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield Reported To Have Partied Hard Before Stabbing Berkeley Student Christopher Wootton To Death In May 2008

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Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield partied heavily in the hours before he allegedly stabbed to death University of California at Berkeley student Christopher Wootton two years ago, according to testimony and photographs presented at his murder trial today.Veronica Nessman, a student who formerly worked for Cal’s men’s basketball team, said Hoeft-Edenfield, 22, was one of many people who attended a party she hosted near campus that started the night of May 2, 2008, which was a Friday night, and extended into the early morning hours of the next day.Nessman said, “Everyone was really drunk” and “a lot of people left the party drunk.”Several Cal basketball players were among those who were at her party, she said.Prosecutor Connie Campbell said in her opening statement in Hoeft-Edenfield’s trial last week that Nessman hosted the party in honor of her 21st birthday but held the party before she turned 21 because her birthday was during finals week, which was the following week.Hoeft-Edenfield is accused of murdering Wootton after a shouting match between two groups of drunken young men who encountered each other on the street at about 2:45 a.m. on May 3, 2008, turned into a fight.Wootton, 21, who was from Bellflower in Southern California, was only weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering. He planned to continue studying nuclear engineering in graduate school at UC Berkeley, according to a statement issued by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau after the stabbing.Campbell alleged in her opening statement that Hoeft-Edenfield presented himself as “a wannabe thug or an actual thug” who escalated a drunken shouting match by pulling out a knife and fatally stabbing Wootton.But defense attorney Yolanda Huang said Hoeft-Edenfield, who worked at Jamba Juice in Berkeley and attended Berkeley City College, “doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body” and acted in self-defense after he was “outnumbered, surrounded, kicked and stomped” by Wootton and a large group of Wootton’s friends.Huang didn’t deny that Hoeft-Edenfield stabbed Wootton but she said “he panicked” and should be found not guilty.Campbell told jurors that the many photos that Nessman snapped at her party helped police track down Hoeft-Edenfield after the stabbing because the clothes he was wearing at the party matched the description of the person witnesses said stabbed Wootton.Nessman said she ran to the stabbing scene, which was near her apartment, after a friend told her what had happened.She said, “I saw a boy lying on the ground” with blood oozing from his chest and two paramedics trying to save his life.Nessman said she returned to her apartment and talked to her roommate.”We were crying and upset and we didn’t know what to do,” she said.But Nessman said she soon went back on the street and told a Berkeley police officer, “I might have important evidence.”She said she felt “sad” for Hoeft-Edenfield, whom she had met on four or five occasions through mutual friends, but she said, “It was the right thing to do no matter who was implicated.”Huang told jurors in her opening statement that photographs and a video at the party showed that he was in a happy frame of mind and didn’t plan to harm anyone.She said the video, which was played in court today, shows “gentle slurring” on Hoeft-Edenfield’s part and that he was “tired and ready to go home.”In questioning Nessman today, Huang said the photos “show a light-hearted party” and “it seems like a happy party and people are having fun.”

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