Two ex-convicts, including one who temporarily escaped from custody in January, were ordered to stand trial today on charges that they murdered rapper Brondon McDaniel in East Oakland in February 2012 in a dispute over money from a tax fraud scheme. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner ruled at the end of a preliminary hearing that spanned parts of four days that prosecutors produced sufficient evidence to connect Anthony Hoskins, 31, and Ezell Edwards, 24, to the shooting death of McDaniel, 30, whose rap name was “Thudda Boy,” in the 400 block of 105th Avenue on Feb. 4, 2012. In addition to ordering Hoskins and Edwards to stand trial for murder, Horner also ordered them to face charges of being felons in possession of firearms and with having prior felony convictions, which could add to their sentences if they are convicted.
Hoskins had been in custody at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin since March 2012 on charges that he committed multiple robberies in Oakland and Fremont, but he escaped on Jan. 11 when a deputy drove him to Highland Hospital for a routine medical appointment. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said that while the deputy was driving Hoskins to the hospital, Hoskins was able to manipulate his leg irons and his waist and hand restraints and when he arrived at the hospital he ran away. However, authorities were able to trace Hoskins to Sparks, Nev., where they arrested him on Feb. 13, after he’d been on the run for more than a month.
Prosecutor Joseph Goethals presented evidence at the hearing that Edwards and Hoskins killed McDaniel because Edwards and his ex-girlfriend were upset at McDaniel because they had been involved in a tax fraud scheme with him but he had filed paperwork to get a tax refund that they believed should have gone to Edwards’ girlfriend. Goethals said in his brief summation of his case that Edwards’ girlfriend, who later broke up with him, provided important evidence to the prosecution by telling authorities that Edwards and Hoskins told her shortly after the incident that they had carried out the shooting and laughed about it. He said he believes Edwards and Hoskins both shot McDaniel because shell casings were found at the scene from two different guns, one a .40-caliber and the other a .45-caliber.
But defense attorneys Barbara Thomas, who represents Edwards, and Darryl Billups, who represents Hoskins, both said the prosecution failed to produce credible evidence because it relied on testimony from Edwards’ ex-girlfriend and a jailhouse informant, alleging that they had motives to lie. Billups said Edwards’ ex-girlfriend “seems to be the un-indicted co-conspirator in this case and seems to be the catalyst” for the shooting because she was “a woman scorned who is trying to get back at everybody.” Thomas said the ex-girlfriend “is the one who has the motive, opportunity and temperament” to carry out the shooting because she was angry at McDaniel. Billups and Thomas both alleged that a jailhouse informant who testified that Hoskins told him that he and Edwards had killed McDaniel approached authorities with that information because he wanted to get money to support his cocaine habit. Hoskins has prior convictions in 2006 for kidnapping and for possession of cocaine base for sale in 2003. Edwards has prior convictions for illegal drug charges in 2008 and 2009.