Murder suspect Daniel Dewitt was arraigned in front of his family and a crowd of spectators Wednesday in the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland after he was taken into custody by Berkeley police on suspicion of killing a man in North Berkeley Saturday.
Dewitt was silent as Judge Sandra Bean read the charges filed against him, including felony murder and use of a deadly weapon, referring to the ceramic planter Dewitt allegedly bludgeoned 67-year-old victim Peter Myron Cukor with.
On Saturday at about 8:45 p.m., the Berkeley Police Department received a call reporting a suspicious person possibly trespassing near the garage of the caller’s Shasta Road and Grizzly Peak Boulevard home, according to police.
According to Bay City News, a probable cause statement filed in court by Berkeley police Detective David Marble claims the man later identified by police as DeWitt left the property after Cukor told him to but was later spotted entering the couple’s front gate.
Cukor told DeWitt to leave and DeWitt “said he was a psychic and he was told to go through the front gate to find Zoey,” Marble wrote, according to Bay City News.
Cukor then walked to a nearby fire station for help but firefighters were out on a call, according to police.
According to Bay City News, Marble wrote that when Cukor returned from the station, Dewitt “viciously assaulted” him with the planter.
At 9:02 p.m., the department received a call about an attack in progress, to which officers were immediately dispatched, according to Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. Cukor was later pronounced dead by physicians at the hospital.
Within 15 minutes of the incident, a man — later identified as Dewitt — matching the suspect description was found less than a block from the crime scene and was arrested by police.
Outside the courtroom, Al Dewitt Jr., said his son had a fictitious girlfriend “in his mind” for over a year that he called “Zoey,” which is consistent with Dewitt’s history of mental illness.
Dewitt is set to appear in court again Thursday.
Senior staff writer Sarah Burns contributed to this report.