Prelim hearing date set in gay Oakland murder case after discovery woes resolved

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Friday August 25, 2023
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Curtis Marsh was stabbed to death in March at his Oakland home. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
Curtis Marsh was stabbed to death in March at his Oakland home. Photo: Courtesy Oakland LGBTQ Community Center

The attorney defending the UC Berkeley employee charged in the killing of a gay Black man in Oakland earlier this year said his problems receiving evidence from prosecutors are getting resolved.

"I got a lot of it and there's more coming," attorney David J. Briggs told the Bay Area Reporter August 25. "I'm confident I'm going to have what I need in a short time."

During a court appearance Briggs and Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Jake O'Malley asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kimberly E. Colwell to set a preliminary hearing in the case for October 17.

Briggs is representing defendant Sweven Waterman, 38, of Oakland, who 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 at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. 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 waived Waterman's appearance in Colwell's courtroom at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland. During the hearing, Briggs told Colwell that "Mr. O'Malley and I have made significant progress on our discovery issues," but that an initial preliminary hearing date for September 19 would be too soon, and that both he and the DA's office agreed to move the hearing to October.

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 Waterman at trial. The DA'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.

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 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 didn't return a request for comment on the Davis case by press time August 25. The two incidents are unrelated.

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