Hearing for December Berkeley murder concludes with phone records, testimonies

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OAKLAND — A preliminary hearing for a December murder in West Berkeley wrapped up Tuesday with phone records, DNA test results and testimonies from one defendant’s close family and friends.

Sgt. Peter Hong, supervising officer of Berkeley Police Department’s homicide unit, continued the previous day’s testimony with phone records obtained through search warrants for the three defendants — 18-year-old Khalil Phanor, 20-year-old Carl Young and 19-year-old Gregory Foote — and for the 17-year-old arrested in February in connection with the murder.

The three defendants were charged earlier this year with murder, second-degree robbery and assault with a firearm in connection with a double shooting in a Berkeley parking lot that resulted in the death of 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton. Middleton’s then-fiancee, Rebekah Cleberg — who was shot in the arm by the same blast that killed Middleton — testified Wednesday that she and Middleton planned to meet Young in the parking lot for a marijuana deal the night of Dec. 29.

Hong also testified Tuesday that the juvenile had provided an alibi during an interview at the Berkeley police station, saying he was at an Oakland tattoo parlor at the time of the murder.

Hong said, however, that a later interview with a tattoo artist at the shop, who was well-acquainted with the juvenile, did not fully corroborate the juvenile’s alibi because the tattoo artist was “unable to say whether he had eyes on the juvenile the whole time.”

Gary Harmor, an expert in DNA analysis, shared the results of tests on evidentiary items recovered from the scene: a baseball cap, a gold chain and the angel pendant found near Middleton’s car that was mentioned by BPD detective Jesse Grant in his Monday in-court testimony.

Harmor testified that according to the test results, Phanor and the juvenile were possible contributors to the DNA mixture obtained from the baseball cap and the angel pendant. Young was not a possible contributor to the mixture obtained from the baseball cap or the pendant, Harmor said.

Phanor was a possible contributor to the DNA mixture obtained from the gold chain, Harmor said, but it was unclear whether the juvenile or Young were contributors, based on statistical evidence.

Young’s grandmother, his close friend and his friend’s mother also answered questions in court about Young’s phone record and whether they had communicated with Young the night of Dec. 29. Young’s grandmother testified that there was “nothing particular” about the day of the murder.

Judge Thomas Reardon said at the end of the hearing that he was not closing evidence and that all parties would reconvene in July, at which time Grant will answer further questions.

Amy Jiang is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ajiang_dc.