A retired IBM systems programmer who now makes violins has emerged as the key figure in the trial of four reputed members of the North Side Oakland gang on three counts of murder for a fatal shooting in Berkeley and a subsequent car chase that killed two people in Oakland. Prosecutor Steve Dal Porto said Timothy McCluskey is a “humble man” who “didn’t have an agenda” when he identified two of the suspects in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Charles Davis of Berkeley in the vicinity of Allston Way and 10th Street in West Berkeley at about 6:30 p.m. on May 16, 2009.
Dal Porto said McCluskey was in the living room of his nearby home when he heard gunshots and then went to the scene to see what was going on and saw 25-year-old Samuel Flowers firing shots and 26-year-old Stephon Anthony hanging out from the front passenger window of the suspects’ Cadillac as it did donuts at the corner of Allston and 10th Street. “There is no reason for him (McCluskey) to make it up that he was there,” Dal Porto said.
However, defense lawyers for the four suspects have questioned McCluskey’s reliability and credibility. Dal Porto told jurors during three days of closing arguments that concluded today that the fatal shooting of Davis stemmed from a feud the North Side Oakland gang has had with a rival Berkeley gang that started over a stolen car tire rim in 2002 and continued with the murders of three North Side Oakland gang members, including one only three weeks before Davis was slain. The prosecutor said the suspects were out for revenge and were looking for Davis’ brother but when they couldn’t find him they instead targeted Davis, who wasn’t a gang member. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene. Dal Porto said that after Davis was shot, the suspects fled the scene at high rates of speed, going through numerous stop signs as they took a circuitous route through Berkeley and Oakland.
The Cadillac then crashed into a Mazda and a pedestrian at Aileen Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, killing both the Mazda driver, 27-year-old Todd Perea of Brentwood, and the pedestrian, 41-year-old Floyd Ross of Berkeley. After the crash, police arrested Anthony, a San Leandro man accused of driving the Cadillac at the time that it crashed, and 30-year-old Anthony Price of Oakland. Two rifles were found on the passenger side of the car, Creighton said. However, Flowers and Rafael Campbell, 28, managed to flee on foot. Flowers was arrested in Bal Harbour, Fla., on May 25, 2009, and Campbell was arrested in Sacramento on Nov. 17, 2009, after he was profiled on the television program “America’s Most Wanted.”
In addition to murder, the four men are each charged with two counts of evading police causing death, gang enhancement clauses and special circumstances murder for killing multiple people and to enhance the activities of a gang. They could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if they’re convicted. Flowers’ attorney, Alex Selvin, said in his closing argument that jurors “should put a big, big question mark about the reliability of McCluskey’s identification” of Flowers as the shooter. He said he doesn’t think McCluskey’s testimony was reliable because “he was very excited and was very upset about what happened.”
Campbell’s lawyer, Andrea Auer, said she believes that McCluskey had a “cavalier” attitude when he testified and she wonders “if he cares whether his testimony was correct or truthful.” Auer said, “Sometimes witnesses can get things right but sometimes they don’t tell the truth and they lie and we saw that.” She told jurors that they should find Campbell not guilty of all the charges against him because there is no evidence to prove that he was present at the shooting or in the car at the time that it crashed.
Anthony’s lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, admitted that Anthony was driving the car when it crashed and should be found guilty of two counts of evading police causing death for the deaths of Perea and Ross. But Stallworth told jurors that Anthony should be found not guilty of murder because there’s a lack of evidence to prove that Anthony knew that Davis would be killed. Price’s attorney, Richard Humphrey, said Price should also be found not guilty. Jurors began deliberating the four defendants’ fate for an hour late today and will resume their deliberations Thursday morning.
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