A Berkeley man who had been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a former friend near the University of California at Berkeley campus three years ago will be released from jail today after serving only 18 months.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay told 21-year-old Brandon Crowder, “You’re being given a break” after placing him on five years’ probation in connection with the death of 23-year-old Wayne Drummond of Oakland on Sept. 4, 2006.
Clay told Crowder, who attended a junior college in the East Bay, “I hope I never see you again” and said Crowder will be sent to state prison for a long term if he violates the terms of his probation.
Clay found that Crowder, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on June 15, testified truthfully for the prosecution in the trial of 23-year-old Nicholas Beaudreaux of Richmond, who was convicted July 7 of first-degree murder and attempted second-degree robbery in connection with the shooting.
Beaudreaux faces a term of 50 years to life in state prison when Clay sentences him on Aug. 28.
Berkeley police said they believed Crowder directed Beaudreaux to shoot Drummond in the incident, which began when Crowder and Drummond, who grew up in Southern California but also attended a junior college in the East Bay, got into a confrontation outside Blakes on Telegraph at 2367 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley shortly after midnight on Sept. 4, 2006.
But prosecutor Tim Wellman said today that the evidence in the case didn’t support that theory.
Crowder’s lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said Crowder had made “idle threats” about doing harm to Drummond before the incident and that those threats made police think that he had directed Beaudreaux to kill Drummond.
But Stallworth said, “None of those threats had any immediacy. It was just a kid talking.”
Stallworth said Beaudreux, who has known Crowder since they were in middle school together but didn’t know Drummond, injected himself into the confrontation by trying to protect Crowder and attempting to take Drummond’s wallet.
Wellman said to jurors in his closing argument in Beaudreaux’s trial that Beaudreaux told Drummond, “I don’t know how to fight, but I know how to use this metal in my waist” and then pulled out a gun, stuck it into Drummond’s neck and demanded Drummond’s wallet.
Drummond fought back and struggled with Beaudreaux over control of Beaudreaux’s gun and Beaudreaux shot him, Wellman said.
Clay said today that he doesn’t believe Crowder anticipated that Beaudreaux would insert himself into the situation, attempt to rob Drummond and then shoot him.
The judge said the shooting “was shocking to everyone there.”
Wellman said in his closing argument that Drummond’s friends and a Berkeley police officer who came to the scene a few moments later attended to Drummond while he was lying on the sidewalk but they didn’t see any blood and didn’t take him to the hospital because they didn’t realize he had had been shot.
Instead, Drummond’s friends drove him to a friend’s room at the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at 2311 Prospect St., near the UC Berkeley campus, where he collapsed and died shortly after 2:30 a.m. that day.
Beaudreaux and Crowder weren’t arrested until February 2008 because it took authorities time to develop sufficient evidence in the case.
Crowder, who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, also faced a felony terrorist threat for allegedly threatening a basketball player at a UC Berkeley facility in December 2007, but Wellman dismissed that case.
Clay said that charge is an example of Crowder’s “hot-headedness.”
Stallworth said Crowder and Drummond had been good friends and drinking buddies but “got into a feud about name-calling and teasing each other.”
He said it was “silly stuff” that was compounded by the fact that Drummond had been drinking and Crowder had been smoking marijuana the night of the incident.
Stallworth said Crowder has matured since the incident and wants to go into computers and real estate after he’s released from jail.