OAKLAND (BCN) — An Alameda County prosecutor told jurors today that a man should be found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders for gunning down two teenage
girls near Brookdale Park in East Oakland in 2012.
Prosecutor Melissa Dooher gave closing arguments in the trial of Diantay Powell, who is on trial for the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Bobbie Sartain and 15-year-old Raquel Gerstel in the 2600 block of Minna Avenue near Brookdale Avenue around 5 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2012.
Dooher told the jurors it is “ridiculous” for Powell’s attorney, Darryl Stallworth, to claim that Powell was provoked by the girls before he fired about two dozen bullets from a .9mm semi-automatic gun.
“I submit there was zero provocation” on the part of Sartain and Gerstel, Dooher said, describing the victims as “two little girls.”
She said Powell had no justification for shooting them simply because they refused to get out of his car and Sartain threatened to call the police after he punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground.
Dooher said Powell, who’s 21 now and was 18 at the time, first shot Gerstel and then shot Sartain as she “begged for her life” and tried to run away.
Stallworth admitted that Powell fatally shot Gerstel and Sartain but said he should only be found guilty of two counts of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter because he acted rashly and in the heat of passion after Sartain provoked him when she slapped him.
Stallworth also said Powell lacked the ability to make intelligent decisions and premeditate a murder because he suffered from a terrible childhood, had absentee parents and regularly used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and cough syrup.
Gerstel and Sartain were friends who grew up together in Alameda. Gerstel lived in San Leandro and was a freshman at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo. Sartain lived on High Street in Oakland, a few blocks from where the shooting happened.
Sartain and Gerstel were involved in relationships with Powell and his friend Antonio Edwards, respectively, according to testimony and attorney statements in the case.
Quincy Carter, who is now 19 but was 16 at the time, testified during Powell’s trial that he had been hanging out in a car with Powell, Edwards, Sartain and Gerstel in the 2600 block of Minna Avenue in the early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2012, but the atmosphere grew tense when Powell got a call from one of his girlfriends and asked Sartain and Gerstel to leave.
But Carter said Sartain didn’t want to leave the car and got into “a heated argument” with Powell.
Carter said the argument continued after Powell pulled Sartain out of the car and Sartain punched Powell in the face and he hit her back.
Carter said Gerstel told Powell, “You just knocked my cousin down” and Powell responded by telling her, “I will knock you down, too” and used an expletive.
Powell then opened fire, Carter testified.
Edwards, who was 19 at the time and is now 23, stood trial with Powell on a charge of being an accessory after the fact for allegedly driving Powell away from the shooting scene. Dooher decided to dismiss that charge against him today because he only would have faced an eight-month sentence if he was convicted of that crime.
However, Edwards is already serving a term of 95 years to life in state prison because he was convicted last year of robbery, rape, assault with a deadly weapon and other sex charges for allegedly assaulting a woman and knocking her boyfriend unconscious in an unrelated incident in the 2800 block of Ettie Street in East Oakland on Dec. 8, 2012.
Edwards also is charged with the robbery and kidnapping of three separate victims during a takeover residential robbery in West Oakland on Dec. 13, 2012, as well as an assault with a semiautomatic firearm on one of
the three victims during the course of those crimes. A trial date hasn’t yet been set in that case.