Jurors this morning convicted Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of University of California at Berkeley senior Christopher Wootton near campus two years ago.
Wootton was stabbed in a confrontation in the parking lot of a sorority house in the 2400 block of Warring Street at about 2:45 a.m. May 3, 2008.
Jurors announced their verdict after deliberating for the equivalent of three full days.
Yolanda Huang, the defense attorney for Hoeft-Edenfield, 22, told jurors in her closing argument that Wootton's death "could well have been an accident."
The stabbing occurred at the end of a drunken shouting match that developed when Hoeft-Edenfield and a group of his friends encountered Wootton and his friends on a street near campus.
Huang admitted that Hoeft-Edenfield, who worked at Jamba Juice in Berkeley and attended Berkeley City College, stabbed Wootton but said he acted in self-defense after he was outnumbered, surrounded, kicked and stomped by Wootton and a large group of Wootton's friends.
Huang said Hoeft-Edenfield should be acquitted, telling jurors, "It's time for you to send Mr. Hoeft-Edenfield home to his family and for this to be over."
But prosecutor Connie Campbell called the idea that the death was an accident "outrageous."
Campbell said Hoeft-Edenfield intentionally drove his three-and-a-half-inch knife into Wootton's chest with so much force that it broke a rib and created a gash in Wootton's heart, causing him to die from blood loss.
The prosecutor alleged that Hoeft-Edenfield and his friends had an opportunity to walk away from the confrontation but that Hoeft-Edenfield escalated the situation.
Wootton, 21, who was from Bellflower in Southern California, was only weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering. He planned to continue studying nuclear engineering in graduate school at UC Berkeley.
Hoeft-Edenfield bowed his head and put his hand over his head after the jury's verdict was read and remained seated with his back to jurors when they left court.
He faces a term of at least 15 years to life when he returns to court on June 10 to be sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner.