Preliminary hearing delayed for 5th time in gay Oakland murder case

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday April 10, 2024
Share this Post:
The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh has again been delayed. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing Curtis Marsh has again been delayed. 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 last year was pushed back for a fifth time.

Defendant Sweven Waterman, 38, of Oakland, is charged with homicide in the March 4, 2023 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.

Waterman had been set to appear in court last week, but his preliminary hearing was reset for June 17 at 8:45 a.m. in Department 11 at the Rene C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland.

Waterman's attorney, David Briggs, declined to comment on why the hearing was again delayed. The Alameda County District Attorney's office did not return a request for comment. A preliminary hearing is held so that a judge can determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the preliminary hearing was originally set for October 17. Then, during a court hearing that day, the Alameda County District Attorney's office requested a new date, which was given for November 17. The hearing didn't happen that day, either, because the DA requested another continuance, according to Briggs. It was then pushed to January 14 but didn't occur because the DA wasn't ready, Briggs said, and was continued again to February 6.

Briggs stated to the B.A.R. February 5 that it has been rescheduled for April 2.

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.

Briggs has told the B.A.R. in past reports that Waterman did not know Marsh, as far as he knew.

Police responded to Marsh's home on Vernon Street in the Adams Point neighborhood just before 8 a.m. March 4, 2023 after a report of a disturbance, Oakland Police Officer Darryl Rodgers previously 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 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, 2023 at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center where friends remembered him.

Marsh is one of at least two gay Black men who were killed in Oakland last year. But, so far, no suspect has been found in the March 12, 2023 shooting death of Devonte Davis, police told the B.A.R. February 15. Oakland police did not return a request from the B.A.R. for an update on the Davis case April 10.

The two incidents are unrelated.

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife. Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!