Trial for murder suspect in Berkeley’s 1st homicide in 2014 delayed pending county expert exam

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OAKLAND — The trial of 29-year-old Michael Diggs, who is charged with murdering 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, has been delayed as the court awaits psychological examination.

Diggs initially pleaded not guilty to Berkeley’s first homicide of 2014 but has since entered a double plea of both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. A court date is scheduled for May 4 to hear expert reports.

The Alameda County Superior Court originally charged Diggs and his girlfriend at the time, 41-year-old Kneitawnye Sessoms, with murder. The charge originally carried a special-circumstances clause alleging that the murder occurred while the suspects robbed the victim, but that clause has since been dropped. Sessoms was cleared of all charges in late October.

Fuselier’s body was found Feb. 28, 2014, about a week after the date police suspect he was murdered in his apartment at 1121 Addison St.

An autopsy determined the victim’s cause of death to be sharp force injuries to the neck and head. According to Berkeley Police Department Sgt. Peter Hong, Diggs confessed during an interview to killing Fuselier with two different sharp objects. Court documents show that one weapon used was a hatchet.

Diggs’ attorneys, Andrew Steckler and Sydney Levin, filed a motion to suppress the interrogation evidence on grounds of coercion, which the judge dismissed. The location of the killing, according to Diggs’ confession, is inconsistent with the physical evidence from the scene, according to Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero.

Video surveillance shows Fuselier and a man and woman entering Fuselier’s apartment the night police believe he died. The Alameda County crime lab matched two fingerprints found at the scene to Diggs, and police believe they have found items belonging to Fuselier in Diggs’ possession.

Diggs’ trial is now scheduled for June 8.

Contact Jamie Nguyen at [email protected].