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Berkeley Man Gets 12 Years for Fatally Stabbing Cal Student in 2008

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday October 24, 2014 - 01:13:00 PM

A former Berkeley City College student was sentenced today to 12 years in state prison for fatally stabbing University of California at Berkeley student Christopher Wootton near campus six years ago. 

The sentencing ends a long legal saga for 27-year-old Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, who was found guilty of second-degree murder on May 13, 2010, in connection with the death of 21-year-old Christopher Wootton in the early morning hours of May 3, 2008. 

Hoeft-Edenfield was sentenced to a term of 16 years to life in state prison, but last year the California Supreme Court, which had originally upheld his conviction, issued an order to show cause why he shouldn't be entitled to relief based on his allegation that his trial lawyer, Yolanda Huang, failed to provide effective legal assistance. 

The matter was sent back to Alameda County Superior Court and on April 29 Judge Larry Goodman, after holding a lengthy hearing, dismissed Hoeft-Edenfield's conviction, ruling that Huang failed to warn him that he could face a life sentence if he didn't accept a manslaughter plea bargain and went to trial and was convicted of murder. 

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office had fought hard to convict Hoeft-Edenfield of second-degree murder in his four-month-long trial in 2010. 

But on Sept. 9 prosecutors decided not to undergo another lengthy trial and allowed Hoeft-Edenfield to plead no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. 

Wootton, who was from Bellflower in Southern California, was only two weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering when he was stabbed during a confrontation in the parking lot of a sorority house in the 2400 block of Warring Street at about 2:45 a.m. on May 3, 2008. 

According to the evidence in Hoeft-Edenfield's trial, the stabbing occurred at the end of a drunken shouting match that developed when Hoeft-Edenfield, who worked at Jamba Juice in Berkeley, and a group of his friends encountered Wootton, who was a member of the nearby Sigma Pi fraternity house, and his friends on a street near campus. 

Huang, Hoeft-Edenfield's trial attorney, admitted that he 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. 

But Judge Jeffrey Horner, who presided over Hoeft-Edenfield's trial, said that on the night of the incident Hoeft-Edenfield never called police and never claimed self-defense. 

Instead, Horner said, Hoeft-Edenfield pulled out a knife, asked Wootton and his friends, "Who wants to die?" and fatally stabbed Wootton. 

Hoeft-Edenfield's new attorney, Christopher Dalton, said today that he doesn't think Hoeft-Edenfield committed murder because there were "self-defense elements to the case." 

Dalton said Hoeft-Edenfield "spent the last six years thinking he would never get out of prison" but will now be released in about six years after serving the rest of his term for his manslaughter conviction. 

Wootton's family members attended all of Hoeft-Edenfield's trial and most of the other hearings in the case but didn't come to court for his sentencing today. 

Prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew declined to comment on the case, saying she was busy with another trial, although that trial isn't in session today.