As Accused People's Park Stabber Faces Another Court Hearing
His Supporters Are Encouraged by Recent Developments in the Case
Accused People's Park stabber, Matthew Dodt, 53, aka Midnight Matt, appeared Thursday from behind the glass prisoner's wall, which had previously blocked spectators' view to once more plead not guilty to assault with a deadly weapon in Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, Oakland.
His appearance cheered a loyal, if small, band of supporters in the audience.
A last-minute additional charge of possessing a police helmet, although carrying a 1-3 year sentence, was met with derision by Dodt's supporters, who have attended two previous hearings and believe the prosecution is grasping at straws.
Although Dodt returns to Santa Rita County Jail, Dublin, to await a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Mar. 16, in courtroom 112, his prospects may be brightening, even though he has served half as much time at Santa Rita as he spent in the tree protesting perceived encroachments by the university in the park.
His attorney met with an Alameda County prosecutor Friday to discuss a possible "agreement," which could lead to his release.
According to sources close to Dodt's case, the claimed victim of the alleged knifing will not testify, and a key witness to the incident has told sources in the park he will not testify either.
Although this goodwill gesture from the two park regulars, who taunted Dodt for hours before the alleged attack, may end hard feelings in the park, it may not deter prosecutors, who continue to view the incident as "serious."
The University police operation which led to Dodt's removal from atop a tree in People's Park, Jan. 28 at 3:30 a.m. involved many officers, some on overtime, according to the command officer at the scene, Lt. Andrew Tucker.
Before the six hour stand-off was over, there was a cordoning off of the Northwest corner of the park, and a police build-up that at times involved ten officers, two support vehicles, a utility truck, a fire engine, an ambulance, and as many as six squad cars.
The on-the-ground police investigation in the park, Jan. 28, involved meticulously marking multiple blood sites with what appeared to this reporter as scores of white one inch folded cards throughout the park, leading him to wonder whether he had walked into a flashback of the O.J. Simpson case.
All that blood--droplets or not--may not be so easily overcome.
Should the case go to trial, Dodt's attorney C. Zadik Shapiro has said that "there are errors in the police report" and that he expects the facts to eventually prove that Mr.Dodt was acting in self defense."
Meanwhile, as the wheels of justice turn slowly, Dodt's loyal supporters continue to keep the faith.
Ted Friedman has covered the People's Park Tree-Sit Protest for the Planet from its inception; his previous stories are cached on-line.