Defense attorney says defendant didn't know Marsh

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday April 13, 2023
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The attorney for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh said that as far as he knew, the two did not know each other. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
The attorney for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh said that as far as he knew, the two did not know each other. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

The attorney defending the UC Berkeley employee charged in the killing a gay Black man in Oakland last month said that as far as he knows, the two did not know each other.

Attorney David J. Briggs and his client, Sweven Waterman, were in Alameda County Superior Court Thursday for a hearing. Waterman, 38, of Oakland, has been charged with homicide in the March 4 stabbing death of Curtis Marsh, 53, also of Oakland. Waterman has pleaded not guilty.

"I don't have any indication they knew each other, but I'm still in the early stages of involvement here," Briggs told the Bay Area Reporter.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, Waterman is in custody without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Waterman appeared in court April 13 in Department 11 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse near Lake Merritt, so that the DA's office could provide any witness statements, DNA evidence, and video it's planning to use.

Briggs told the B.A.R. before the hearing that his plan was to "enter a time waiver" because since last week — when he complained the DA's office hadn't "given me anything to explain why my client is being charged here" — he had received much of what he had asked for.

When asked if it's enough information, Briggs said it is, "for now." Briggs clarified that he received witness statements and video.

Briggs demurred when asked about his client's sexual orientation.

"I can't comment on that," he said.

During the hearing before Judge Kimberly Colwell, Waterman waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing and all parties agreed to return to the same courtroom at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 17.

The B.A.R., visiting the 200 block of Vernon Street where the alleged homicide took place, spoke with four individuals there; one recalled hearing about the crime but had no direct memory of it. Two others had not heard anything about it; a language barrier impeded the last conversation. All declined to give their names.

The B.A.R. left behind a reporter's information at several residences, seeking comment from anyone with recollection of that morning.

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.

Police responded to the Vernon Street location in the Adams Point neighborhood just before 8 a.m. March 4 after a report of a disturbance, Oakland Police Officer Darryl Rodgers stated in an email to the B.A.R.

The "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. (The DA's office did not respond to a request for comment on that matter April 5.)

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 for Marsh 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. last month. A police spokesperson did not immediately return an April 13 message seeking an update on the Davis case. The two incidents are unrelated.

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