Prosecutor calls student's alleged killer 'wannabe thug'

March 16, 2010 12:57:59 PM PDT
A prosecutor told jurors today that University of California at Berkeley senior Christopher Wootton was stabbed to death near the campus two years ago by a man she described as "a wannabe thug or an actual thug."

In her opening statement in the murder trial of 22-year-old Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, prosecutor Connie Campbell said Hoeft-Edenfield escalated a shouting match between his friends and Wootton's friends in the early morning hours of May 3, 2008, by pulling out a knife and yelling, "Who wants to die tonight?"

Campbell said Hoeft-Edenfield, who worked at Jamba Juice in Berkeley and attended Berkeley City College, then stabbed Wootton so viciously that he cut through Wootton's bone, severed a rib and cut a 1 1/8-inch gap into Wootton's heart.

She said Wootton, 21, who was from Bellflower in Southern California, was only weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering.

Campbell said the clash began after Wootton and his friends got into an argument with Hoeft-Edenfield and his friends after everyone involved had been drinking heavily.

The stabbing occurred in the parking lot of the Chi Omega sorority house at 2400 Warring St. in Berkeley, which is near the Sigma Pi fraternity house where Wootton lived and served as vice president and pledge educator.

Campbell said a "friendly dialogue" between the two groups of young men eventually "turned into a pissing contest."

She said, "It was a stupid verbal testosterone shouting match."

Hoeft-Edenfield's attorney, Yolanda Huang, may give her opening statement later today.

At Hoeft-Edenfield's preliminary hearing last year, Huang said Hoeft-Edenfield acted in self-defense in the incident.

She said, "My client's actions were clearly defensive" and he was only using his knife to defend himself.


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