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Plea Delayed in Durant Avenue Shooting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday June 05, 2008 - 09:48:00 AM

Berkeley resident Nathaniel Curtis Freeman, 19, who was charged with murdering Maceo Smith on Durant Avenue on May 13, did not enter a plea at the Alameda County Superior Court Monday. 

Freeman did not enter a plea on May 30 as he was scheduled to do because he hadn’t been assigned a lawyer, so he was asked to appear again on June 2. 

The court appointed Spencer Strellis as Freeman’s lawyer on Monday and re-scheduled his plea date for 10 a.m. on June 27. 

District Attorney Chris Infante, who has been assigned to the case, said Freeman could not enter a plea because he (Infante) had not yet retrieved evidence from the Berkeley Police Department and turned it over to Strellis. 

Infante declined to comment on the specifics of the case. 

“It’s still very early,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.” 

The 15 or so family members and friends who gathered outside the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland around 2 p.m. on May 30 criticized recent media reports that indicated Smith was a good father, but that he coached kids in basketball and football and then made them sell drugs or recruited them as gang members. 

“They demonized him [Maceo] again today,” Smith’s mother Rita MacIntyre, a food service worker at Willard Middle School in Berkeley, told friends. “Why are they demonizing the victim? He went up there without anything. He went there with his wife,” she said. 

“What gangs are they talking about? There are no gangs in Berkeley,” said another family member. 

McIntyre also told friends that Smith and Anthony “Tony” Beamon, the 29-year-old African-American man who was shot Wednesday at the intersection of California and Tyler streets in South Berkeley, knew each other. 

A couple of Smith’s friends and relatives wore “R.I.P. Mace” T-shirts with the words “Berkeley will never be the same without you again” on them. 

Smith was a regular at the basketball games at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA and was quick to include children in his games, friends close to him told the Planet in an earlier interview. 

Freeman was also charged with assault with a firearm for allegedly shooting a second man, Marcus Mosley, who was Smith’s former brother-in-law, in the incident on Durant Avenue. 

According to authorities, Freeman fired at Smith and Mosley following a dispute, killing Smith and injuring Mosley. 

Court records indicate Smith was convicted for the sale of a narcotics controlled substance in June 2006. He was charged with the illegal possession of an assault weapon in 2004, but the charges were dismissed. Court records also show a conviction for petty theft dating back to 2000. 

Freeman, who is currently being held at Santa Rita Jail, lived in Berkeley with his mother. 

Court records indicate Freeman was convicted for disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, on July 27, 2007. 

According to police reports, Freeman had been in a fight with Leigh Hunt, Jonathan Lamky and Mike Langston around July 25, for which he was arrested for battery on Hunt and Lamky, but the charges were lowered to disturbing the peace.