UC Berkeley employee pleads not guilty in Marsh killing

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 5, 2023
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Curtis Marsh was found stabbed to death March 4. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
Curtis Marsh was found stabbed to death March 4. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

A UC Berkeley employee charged in the stabbing death of a Black gay Oakland man pleaded not guilty in an Alameda County courtroom Wednesday — but his attorney is requesting documentation from the district attorney's office to explain the charges.

"So far, they [the DA's office] haven't given me anything to explain why my client is being charged here," David J. Briggs, a private attorney with an office in Richmond, told the Bay Area Reporter.

Briggs is representing Sweven Waterman, 38, of Oakland, who is in custody without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after having been charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's office with the homicide of Curtis Marsh, 53, also of Oakland.

Marsh, who was also known as drag artist Touri Monroe, was a hair stylist and a Miss Gay Oakland emeritus who used to sing with the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus. Originally from Iowa, friends described him as fun, helpful, and active in his church.

He was killed the morning of March 4, police said. Police responded to the 200 block of Vernon Street in the Adams Point neighborhood just before 8 a.m. after a report of a disturbance, Oakland Police Officer Darryl Rodgers stated in an email to the B.A.R.

As part of the discovery process, prosecutors must provide the defense attorneys with the evidence that it intends to use in its prosecution.

Superior Court Judge James Cramer granted Briggs' request for a preliminary hearing, scheduled for April 13 in Department 11 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse near Lake Merritt, so that the DA's office can provide any witness statements, DNA evidence, and video it's planning to use.

The March 4 "disturbance" consisted of "reports of an individual screaming," stated Paul Chambers, the strategic communication manager for the Oakland Police Department. When officers arrived, Oakland firefighters were on the scene extinguishing a fire.

"Upon arrival, officers located an Oakland resident with multiple lacerations," Oakland Police Officer Darryl Rodgers stated. "The victim succumbed to their injuries and medical units pronounced the victim deceased on scene. Investigators from the OPD Homicide Section responded to the scene to begin the follow-up investigation into the circumstances surrounding the homicide."

Neighbors told KTVU-TV (that the perpetrator set the fire and left the front door and gate open when running away. No motive has been given, nor the circumstances of if - or how - the two men knew one another.

Waterman is on administrative leave from his job as a senior custodian with UC Berkeley, the school told the B.A.R. on March 13. He has six prior convictions dating back to 2002, including felony evasion, forgery, robbery, and vehicle theft, according to Berkeley Scanner.

A memorial was held March 11 at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center where friends remembered him.

Marsh is one of two gay Black men who were killed in Oakland last month. But, so far, no suspect has been found in the March 12 shooting death of Devonte Davis, police told the B.A.R. March 28. The two incidents are unrelated.

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