Friend confesses to shooting Willis-Starbuck

April 17, 2008 4:38:56 PM PDT
Christopher Hollis confessed in a videotaped statement played in court today to firing the shot that killed his close friend Meleia Willis-Starbuck, a popular Berkeley High School graduate and Dartmouth College student, nearly three years ago.

Hollis, 24, was dressed in blue jeans and a purple football jersey with the number 32 when he was interviewed by two Berkeley police officers on Sept. 23, 2005, more than two months after Willis-Starbuck, who was 19, was shot to death near the intersection of College Avenue and Dwight Way in Berkeley about 2 a.m. on July 17, 2005.

The interview was conducted in Fresno, where Hollis was arrested after being on the run for two months.

Frequently banging his left hand on a table in a police interview room and speaking in a high-pitched and whiny voice, Hollis was alternately remorseful and defiant as he spoke to the officers.

Hollis, who attended Berkeley High with Willis-Starbuck, said he felt horrible when he learned Willis-Starbuck was struck and killed by shots he fired after responding to her call for help after she and several women friends got into a confrontation with seven to 10 University of California, Berkeley football players.

According to prosecutor Elgin Lowe, the confrontation occurred after the football players tried to pick up the women and then insulted them after their advances were rebuffed.

Hollis said, "I just wanted to die. I still do."

But Hollis also expressed anger at his friend Christopher Wilson, 23, who attended Berkeley High with Hollis and Willis-Starbuck and drove Hollis to the scene of the shooting, for turning himself in to Berkeley police several days after the incident and providing information about it.

Hollis said he had taken care of Wilson for six months after Wilson broke his jaw in a fight in early 2005 and accused Wilson of lying about the shooting incident.

"I want to break his (Wilson's) jaw again," Hollis said.

Witnesses to the incident have testified that they heard four or five shots, but Hollis only admitted firing two shots, saying, "I shot twice in the air."

Hollis is charged with murder, assault with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon, as he has a prior drug conviction.

Wilson initially was charged with murder for allegedly driving Hollis to and from the scene but he was allowed to plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact in exchange for testifying against Hollis.

Wilson testified Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wilson will only receive a three-year sentence if court officials believe his testimony was truthful but Hollis could be sentenced to life in prison if he's convicted.


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