Hearing for West Berkeley murder ‘still under investigation’ enters 3rd day

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OAKLAND — The preliminary hearing for the 2014 murder of 36-year-old Kamahl Middleton in West Berkeley continued Monday and brought to light new testimony and forensic data from police.

In December, 18-year-old Khalil Phanor, 20-year-old Carl Young and 19-year-old Gregory Foote allegedly murdered and robbed Middleton in a parking lot located on University and San Pablo avenues. According to 29-year-old Rebekah Cleberg, Middleton’s then-fiancee, the crime occurred after she and Middleton planned to trade Young a pound and a half of marijuana for $3,200. The two had attempted to verify Young’s ID and medical marijuana prescription before the deal.

The hearing, held before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, stretched into its third day Monday. The court had previously heard testimony from Cleberg, who was injured by the same shotgun blast that killed Middleton.

Berkeley Police Department detective Jesse Grant, the case’s lead investigator, described the case as “very much still under investigation” but provided some further testimony about evidentiary items, such as a pendant with an angel motif found near Middleton’s car. Grant said police received photos from Instagram — posted online before the date of the crime — of Phanor and possibly another person wearing angel pendants like the one recovered from the crime scene.

Peter Hong, supervising officer of BPD’s homicide unit, provided the court with an animation visualizing the suspects’ locations the night of the crime as indicated by “pings” sent from their cell phones to the nearest cell tower. Additionally, the court heard testimony from Yimoni Temporal, a high school classmate of Young’s who said she spoke with him by phone the night of the incident.

The hearing is expected to continue Tuesday and throughout the rest of the week.

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact them at [email protected] and follow them on Twitter @BylineGraph.