Preliminary hearing pushed back in gay Oakland murder case

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday October 17, 2023
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The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh has been pushed back to November. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh has been pushed back to November. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

The preliminary hearing in the case of the UC Berkeley employee charged in the killing of a gay Black man in Oakland earlier this year was pushed back one month during a court hearing Tuesday.

Defendant Sweven Waterman, 38, of Oakland, is 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 at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the hearing had been set for October 17. However, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kimberly E. Colwell decided to push back the hearing to November after Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Jake O'Malley said that he was not ready with a person to testify regarding DNA evidence.

At the preliminary hearing, the Alameda County District Attorney's office will present witnesses and evidence, and the judge will decide if there's sufficient evidence to proceed with the charges against defendant Waterman at trial. The DA's office declined a request for comment on the case.

Waterman's attorney, David Briggs, objected to the hearing being pushed back.

"We were prepared to go today," Briggs told the B.A.R. "We will be prepared on November 17."

Briggs said significant progress had been made on discovery, which he'd complained was a problem earlier this year.

In a previous interview, Briggs demurred when asked about his client's sexual orientation. Waterman is on administrative leave from his job as a senior custodian at UC Berkeley.

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 Marsh's home on Vernon Street 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 earlier this year 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 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. Oakland police stated to the B.A.R. October 17, "there are no new updates to provide at this time." Police had most recently stated no arrests had been made. The two incidents are unrelated.

The rescheduled preliminary hearing for Waterman will be November 17 in Department 111 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Updated, 10/17/23: This article has been updated with a response from Oakland police.

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