General Crime

Christopher Donaldson Gets 32 Years to Life for Murder of William Adrian Falcon Sapp in Berkeley

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An Alameda man was sentenced today to 32 years to life in state prison for masterminding a marijuana robbery at an Alameda apartment complex three years ago in which the intended victim was fatally shot. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson said 25-year-old Christopher Donaldson deserved the maximum sentence possible for the death of 32-year-old William Adrian Falcon Sapp at Buena Vista Avenue and Poggi Street on April 20, 2011, because “he masterminded it (the robbery plan), he orchestrated it and he saw that it was carried out.” Donaldson was convicted on June 11 of first-degree murder for Sapp’s death as well as second-degree robbery for the armed robbery of another marijuana grower in Berkeley on Feb. 11, 2011.

Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty said Donaldson contacted Sapp through Craigslist, as Sapp grew marijuana legally for medical marijuana clubs and offered marijuana for sale. But Moriarty said Donaldson didn’t intend to buy marijuana from Sapp but instead arranged for two accomplices, Charles Kimbrough, 32, and Richard Ezell, 25, to rob Sapp at the Summer House Apartments at 1926 Poggi St. However, Moriarty said Sapp fought back against Kimbrough and Ezell and Ezell shot and killed him.

Moriarty said that even though Donaldson didn’t kill Sapp he believes Donaldson is responsible for Sapp’s death because he set up the plan to rob him. Earlier this year Ezell and Kimbrough both pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for their roles in the death of Sapp in an agreement with prosecutors that called for them to get sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison in return for testifying against Donaldson. Ezell kept his part of the bargain by testifying against Donaldson during his trial but Kimbrough refused to testify so his plea agreement was thrown out.

He’s now undergoing a trial which started on Thursday at which he faces the possibility of being convicted of first-degree murder. Sapp’s younger brother, Luke Falcon Sapp, 24, a U.S. State Department foreign affairs officer based in Washington, D.C., described Sapp as “a kind and thoughtful person who brought everyone closer together and would help strangers on the side of the road.” Luke Sapp said he and his older brother grew up in northern Florida and then his brother served as a U.S. Navy petty officer based in Japan.

William Sapp “struggled to find his path in life” but then decided to grow marijuana for marijuana clubs because he had “a passion for botany,” his younger brother said. Luke Sapp said Donaldson and the other two defendants in the case should get the maximum sentence possible because “they took advantage of others” and are “the lowest forms of people.” Sapp said he, his mother and other family members have suffered from depression since his brother was killed. Donaldson’s mother, Karen Dade, an associate dean at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, asked Rolefson to “not give my son a life a sentence” and “please be merciful.”

Dade said Donaldson “possesses some outstanding qualities,” such as being a good student and a good father to his young son, and being “a caring individual.” But Rolefson said that although Donaldson didn’t intend for Sapp to be killed in the plan to steal marijuana from him “somebody did die and he (Donaldson) has to take responsibility.” Noting that many other family members joined Dade in supporting Donaldson at his hearing today, Rolefson said, “He has a loving family and comes from good stock but instead he decided to rob people and he threw it all away and brought these consequences upon himself.”

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