Cal Players Give Statements in Willis-Starbuck Shooting By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday October 18, 2005

In the past two weeks, several more Cal football players have given witness statements to investigators in the murder of Meleia Willis-Starbuck, according to John Burris, the attorney for co-defendant Christopher Hollis. 

Burris, who declined to specify the number of witnesses who have come forward in the past two weeks, credited press reports for pressuring the football team to cooperate with investigators. 

“They were not forthcoming at the outset. Now my sense is that they are coming forward,” Burris said. 

UC Berkeley Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs George Strait said that the university has not changed its approach to the investigation and has been forthcoming from the start. 

According to police, Willis-Starbuck and several female friends got into an argument with a group of men outside Willis-Starbuck’s College Avenue apartment the night of July 17.  

During the argument, police say Willis-Starbuck called Hollis, 22, to come to her defense. Hollis arrived and from about half a block away fired several bullets into the crowd, striking Willis-Starbuck in the chest. 

Christopher Wilson, 20, who police say drove Hollis from the crime scene, has also been charged with murder. He is free on $500,000 bail. 

Burris maintains that Hollis intended to shoot above the heads of people crowding College Avenue in order to disperse them. He said additional testimony from football players was important to gauge the threat of physical violence Willis-Starbuck felt when, Burris said, she called Hollis and told him to “bring the heat.” 

Burris is maintaining that the killing does not constitute murder because Hollis was under the impression that Willis-Starbuck was in grave danger. 

Hollis, who was a fugitive until last month, will not seek bail, Burris said. 

Hollis and Wilson appeared in court together Friday. Judge Winfred Scott delayed setting a preliminary hearing date for both defendants until Nov. 17 to allow their defense attorneys more time to review new witness statements. According to Burris, Friday was the first time Hollis and Wilson had been in the same room since the night of the shooting.