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Defendant’s Character Examined in Cal Student Stabbing Case

By Bay City News
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 10:35:00 PM

Prosecutors in the trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing University of California at Berkeley student Christopher Wootton to death two years ago said in court today the defendant has a history of angry outbursts.  

Deputy District Attorney Connie Campbell said she wants to call as witnesses Berkeley High School officials, who she said will testify that Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, who is standing trial on charges that he murdered Wootton on May 4, 2008, had anger management problems. 

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said Hoeft-Edenfield's reputation "is entirely relevant to this case because he's placed at issue in front of this jury his character trait for violence or lack of violence." 

Hoeft-Edenfield's lawyer, Yolanda Huang, told jurors in her opening statement last month that Hoeft-Edenfield, 22, "doesn't have a malicious bone in his body" and acted in self-defense after he was outnumbered and surrounded by Wootton and a large group of Wootton's friends. 

But prosecutor Campbell said Hoeft-Edenfield should be convicted of first-degree murder, alleging he escalated a drunken shouting match on the street between his group of friends and Wootton's group of friends by pulling out a knife and yelling, "Who wants to die tonight?" 

Wootton, 21, who was from Bellflower in Southern California and was a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity house, was only a few weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering when he was killed. 

Huang said she wanted to call as a witness today a member of another fraternity house who she said will testify that Wootton "was not a peaceful person and liked to get in fights." 

She said the witness will say that he had to kick Wootton out of his fraternity house three times for starting fights. 

Campbell alleged that the witness' potential testimony is "a desperate lie" by the defense, and asked for more time to research the witness' background. 

Horner cautioned Campbell that she was using "strong words" to castigate the defense but agreed to postpone the witness' testimony until Monday. 

Hoeft-Edenfield's trial then continued with Huang's investigator on the witness stand. Huang hasn't disclosed whether Hoeft-Edenfield will testify.