Suspects charged with murder appear in court

The Associated Press
Friday November 15, 2002

OAKLAND — Two parolees arrested in connection with the drive-by killing of a 15-year-old girl and the wounding of two boys in East Oakland on Monday were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court Thursday. 

Eric M. Williams, 28, and Keddrick Darrough, 24, both of Oakland, were charged with one count of murder each stemming from Monday's shooting death of Tamellia Cobbs as she stood on a sidewalk in front of her aunt's house. 

The complaint filed by the district attorney's office also charges the men with four counts each of attempted murder, four counts each of assault with a firearm, and one count of each of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. 

The men were arraigned separately and neither entered a plea Thursday. 

The murder count lodged against each defendant carries with it a special circumstance allegation, specifically that Cobbs was killed in a drive-by shooting. The penalty for a conviction of murder with the special circumstance is a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. 

Williams, who was convicted in 1993 of robbing a Bank of America in Oakland, was also charged with being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. 

They are also being held on parole violations. 

The shooting, which occurred in the 1200 block of 89th Avenue near B Street, was reported at about 11:15 a.m. on Monday. The slaying was the city's 97th of the year. 

According to police, the shooters drove up in a car and opened fire on the victims standing on the sidewalk. Tamellia and two boys were struck by bullets that tore through an Oldsmobile station wagon parked along the curb. 

Judge Allan D. Hymer said Thursday that Williams has three prior felony convictions, each of which counts as a “strike” under the state's “Three Strikes” law. Darrough was convicted of a felony in 1997 for which he served a state prison term, according to the judge. 

As the judge read the charges against him, Williams flipped occasionally through a copy of the charging document, leaned over on the lectern in front of him and looked distractedly out at those seated in the gallery. 

Williams, wearing a red shirt beneath a dark coat, smiled occasionally and cradled his chin in his palm as the judge concluded his reading of the 11 criminal counts. 

The judge said that he had been approached Thursday by Williams' brother, who said he was trying to retain the services of attorney Colin Cooper. 

Williams was ordered to return to court on Nov. 26 at 9 a.m. 

Near the end of his appearance, Williams told the judge he wanted to confer with his own attorney before deciding whether to request a “speedy” trial. 

“I'm going to go see what this lawyer say,” Williams told the judge. Then he added, “These charges, they ain't you know what I mean” and his voice trailed off. 

Darrough, who appeared in court Thursday in a multicolored sweater and blue jeans, told the judge he was unable to afford his own attorney at this time. He was ordered to return to court Friday morning to speak with a public defender. He faces 10 criminal counts.