Man to stand trial for hot dog stand shooting

January 15, 2009 8:28:21 PM PST
A Berkeley man was ordered to stand trial today on murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges for a shooting incident near a popular hot dog stand one block south of the University of California at Berkeley campus on senior graduation day last spring.

At the end of a two-day preliminary hearing, Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay ruled that prosecutor Chris Infante presented sufficient evidence for 20-year-old Nathaniel Freeman to stand trial for the May 13 incident in which 33-year-old Maceo Smith of Berkeley was killed and Marcus Mosley, Smith's former brother-in-law, was wounded.

In a brief summation today, Infante said, "Mr. Freeman fired at least eight times that we know of" in the incident, which occurred about 3:50 p.m. near the Top Dog hot dog stand at 2534 Durant Ave. and shattered an idyllic spring day.

Infante alleged that Freeman had "a very clear intent to kill" because he shot at both victims at close range.

The prosecutor said Freeman "was going to kill Mr. Smith and try to kill Mr. Mosley."

Mosley, who sobbed quietly when he testified today, sustained five wounds and still has some bullets inside his body, Infante said.

About 15 of Smith's family members and friends attended today's hearing. Freeman is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 30 to have a trial date set.

No one in the case is affiliated with UC Berkeley, but Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and many students, including graduating seniors in caps and gowns, stopped by to watch the police investigation.

According to Berkeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the shooting occurred on the sidewalk in front of the Pacific Film Archive on Durant Avenue just east of Bowditch Street.

Kusmiss said shots were fired after Freeman ran into Mosley on Durant Avenue and the two men rekindled a dispute that started with a confrontation at a party a week earlier.

Kusmiss said Mosley eventually called Smith to help him out in his argument with Freeman.

The argument continued after Smith arrived and Freeman pulled out a gun at the southwest corner of Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street and shot both Smith and Mosley, Kusmiss said.

According to Kusmiss, after Smith was shot he staggered across both Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street and collapsed in a parking lot at 2542 Durant Ave that is next door to the Top Dog hot dog stand.

Kusmiss said Mosley got into his silver Cadillac, abandoned Smith and drove himself to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and released.

Freeman fled the scene on foot but he turned himself in to Berkeley police the next day, Kusmiss said.

Berkeley police said Smith, who worked for the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department and is survived by his wife and three children, was well-known to them because he frequently was in trouble with the law over the years.

Smith had a lengthy arrest record, including for illegal gun and drug charges, but he was never convicted of a felony.