Double murder charges in young Oakland mother’s death
on November 18, 2009
Relatives of a young mother found dead in Berkeley last week cried quietly in a packed courtroom Tuesday as a judge read the charges against the Oakland man accused of murdering Zoelina Williams, 23, and her 17-month-old son Jashon.
Curtis Martin III, 38, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and with felony possession of a firearm. The charges also include two special circumstance allegations: multiple murders, and the murder an individual who bore witness to a crime. If convicted, Martin would be eligible for the death penalty.
After the brief reading of the charges, tearful relatives of Zoelina and Jashon Williams embraced each other in the sixth-floor hallway of the Wiley Manuel Alameda County Superior Court in downtown Oakland. “He needs to go straight to the chair,” cried out a woman identified as Zoelina Williams’ aunt.
Martin was convicted in 1994 of voluntary manslaughter for killing his then-girlfriend’s 3-year-old son, Devin Brewer, which makes this a “two strikes, one prior” case, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert D. McGuiness said. Martin was also convicted in 1992 of possession of an assault weapon, and in 2007 of the violation of a restraining order issued against him by his girlfriend, according to newspaper accounts citing Martin’s criminal record.
Martin served six years of an 11-year sentence for Brewer’s death and was released in 2000. Members of Brewer’s family were present at the arraignment Tuesday “to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Orlando Williams, Brewer’s uncle, who held up a photo of his deceased nephew before entering the courtroom.
Oakland police officers arrested Martin Friday afternoon as a suspect in Zoelina William’s death. At that time, the search for Jashon Williams was ongoing. A body found in the Berkeley Marina Sunday morning about one mile from the location where a Berkeley police officer found Zoelina Williams was identified for the first time Tuesday as Jashon’s, although the coroner’s office Wednesday morning still had not publicly confirmed the identity of the body.
Martin was present at the arraignment but was surrounded by court personnel and so stayed out of sight for most people in the courtroom. He is being held without bail. He was referred to a public defender and is scheduled to appear before Judge McGuiness again Thursday morning to enter a plea.
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