Durant Avenue Murder Hearing Postponed

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 26, 2009 - 12:27:00 PM

Judge Morris Jacobson of Alameda County Superior Court on Monday postponed until March 4 the pretrial hearing of Nathaniel Freeman of Berkeley, charged with the shooting death of Maceo Smith on Durant Avenue last May. 

Freeman, who turned himself in to the police after the incident, pleaded not guilty on Jan. 30 to one count of murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. 

Berkeley Police Department officials said after the incident that the daytime shooting was a result of an argument between the defendant and the two victims, Smith and his brother-in-law Marcus Mosley, following which Freeman took out his gun and shot them several times, injuring Mosley and killing Smith, who died from the gunshot wounds in a private parking lot next to Hotel Durant. 


Witness testimony 

At a preliminary hearing held on Jan. 14 and Jan. 15 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, Mosley was one of a group of witnesses who testified about the shooting, offering accounts of the incidents leading up to that summer afternoon. 

Ardie Custard, a driver for the R bus line at UC Berkeley, testified that he had been doing his usual loop when, in the area of Channing Way and Bowditch Street, he heard several gunshots. 

Custard said that he had been trying to determine where the shots were coming from when he saw a young man—whom he identified as Freeman in the courtroom—with a backpack and a revolver running in the direction of Durant Avenue. He said the man put the gun in his backpack and disappeared into the underground parking lot across the street. 

Dr. Thomas Rogers, a physician and a forensic pathologist who performs autopsies for the coroner’s office in Alameda and San Mateo counties, told Judge C. Don Clay during the hearing that Smith died from four gunshot wounds, and the most severe gunshot wound was the one that had entered the right side of his neck and passed through the right lung. 

Rogers said that he had recovered two bullets from Smith’s body during the autopsy. 

Mosley started his testimony with an account of a party he attended at Ocean Beach in San Francisco on May 10, where he said he met Freeman. Mosley said that Freeman accused him of stealing a friend’s iPod.  

Mosley said he left the party and on his way back to Berkeley called Smith—whom he had known for the last 15 or 16 years and described as “the closest thing to a big brother”—and told him about the party. 

Mosley said that when he stopped for a slice of pizza at Fat Slice on Telegraph Avenue on May 13 he saw Freeman again. 

He testified that Freeman told him that the events at the party had been a “misunderstanding” and that “some people” had told him to rob Mosley. 

Mosley said that he repeatedly asked Freeman to tell him the names of these individuals, but Freeman refused, at which point Mosley said he called Smith and asked him to meet him near Durant and Telegraph. Mosley started following Freeman down the street, taunting him and demanding the names, when Freeman warned Mosely to “just get the fuck away.” 

“I asked, ‘or what?’ ” Mosley recounted in court. 

After some time, according to Mosley’s testimony, Smith arrived and confronted Freeman, at which point Freeman pulled out a gun and fired. 

Smith died in the parking lot next to Hotel Durant, where he was discovered by several police officers from UC and Berkeley police departments.