Discovery woes may cause further delays in gay Oakland murder case

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Friday July 7, 2023
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Curtis Marsh was stabbed to death in March. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
Curtis Marsh was stabbed to death in March. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

The attorney defending the UC Berkeley employee charged in the killing of a Black gay man in Oakland earlier this year said outstanding discovery in the case may lead to further delays.

Attorney David J. Briggs told the Bay Area Reporter July 7 that he had a fever and so couldn't appear in person for a disposition and setting hearing for defendant Sweven Waterman. 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 and remains in custody.

An Alameda County Sheriff's deputy had said Waterman "refused" to come to the hearing; Briggs said it was probably listed as such because Waterman wouldn't be coming down to the courtroom since Briggs was absent.

Judge Kimberly Colwell of Department 11 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse, near Lake Merritt, wouldn't let Briggs appear in court via video, so he requested the hearing be pushed back to August 4.

"Disposition and setting sounds really fancy, but it's really just nothing," Briggs said. "It's 'we need a court date.'"

But whether the case will be able to proceed after that depends on the DA's office, Briggs said. He'd complained in April, the B.A.R. reported, that he wasn't getting enough discovery. He said that's still the case now.

"There's a lot of outstanding discovery," he said. The next hearing will "be another disposition and setting." What happens after "depends on whether I get discovery, so I can't really answer the question — it's premature."

The Alameda County District Attorney's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Briggs has told the B.A.R. in past reports that Waterman did not know Marsh, as far as he knew. Waterman is still in custody without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Briggs also demurred when asked about his client's sexual orientation.

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

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.

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 this year. But, so far, no suspect has been found in the March 12 shooting death of Devonte Davis, police told the B.A.R. July 7. The two incidents are unrelated.

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