Preliminary examination sheds new light on 2014 Berkeley homicide

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A two-day preliminary examination concluded Wednesday, with several in-court testimonies shedding light on the circumstances surrounding a September 2014 homicide of a 72-year-old woman.

Kamau Berlin, 20, allegedly assaulted and murdered Nancy McClellan during an attempted carjacking near the intersection of Russell Street and Otis Street on Sept. 19, 2014.

Several Berkeley Police Department officers and two civilian witnesses who were at the scene spoke at the hearing, according to prosecutor Briggitte Lowe, an Alameda County deputy district attorney. BPD Sgt. Peter Hong testified in court Wednesday that Berlin admitted to committing the crime, as reported by KRON 4.

“(Hong) testified that the suspect later made some admissions about the crime in a recorded conversation in the jail between he and his mother and a recorded conversation with himself in the back of the police car,” Lowe said.

The in-court testimonies are part of the case against Berlin presented by the prosecution, after which a judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the defendant to stand trial.

Berlin, who was 18 years old when the crime occurred, faces charges of murder, attempted robbery, attempted carjacking, attempted forcible rape and elder abuse.

When  McClellan was found by police, she was bleeding in the backseat of her car from stab wounds to the neck, Lowe said. She died two weeks later from injuries sustained in the attack.

One of the two civilian witnesses who testified was walking in the area of the attack when she saw the victim, according to an affidavit from Hong written in 2014. According to Lowe, the witness testified that they saw the victim lying on the ground, bleeding from her face, while the suspect attempted to start the victim’s vehicle.

The second witness testified that they saw the suspect running from police after the attack, Lowe said.

Lowe added, however, that neither of the civilian witnesses who testified identified Berlin in court.

A defense motion to suppress several items of evidence was declined, Lowe said.

The decision determining whether Berlin’s case will move to trial will be reviewed May 4 at Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, according to Lowe.

Contact Lucas Lochner-Bravo at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @llochner_dc