A man charged with two counts of murder for allegedly gunning down two teenage girls in East Oakland in 2012 declined to testify Wednesday even though his attorney had promised jurors that he would take the stand.
Diantay Powell, who was 18 at the time, is accused in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Bobbie Sartain and 15-year-old Raquel Gerstel in the 2600 block of Minna Avenue near Brookdale Park around 5 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2012.
His attorney, Darryl Stallworth, said in his opening statement last week that Powell would testify about the killings, as well as about what Stallworth described as a troubled childhood. But when Stallworth tried to call Powell to the witness stand Wednesday, Powell declined to testify.
Stallworth then rested his defense case, and Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay scheduled closing arguments for Monday.
Gerstel and Sartain were friends who grew up together in Alameda. Gerstel lived in San Leandro and was a freshman at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo. Sartain lived on High Street in Oakland, a few blocks from where the shooting happened.
Sartain and Gerstel were involved in sexual relationships with Powell and co-defendant Antonio Edwards, respectively, according to testimony and attorney statements in the case.
Quincy Carter, who is now 19 but was 16 at the time, testified last week that he had been hanging out in a car with Powell, Edwards, Sartain and Gerstel in the early morning of Nov. 25, 2012, but the atmosphere grew tense when Powell got a call from one of his girlfriends and asked Sartain and Gerstel to leave.
Carter said Sartain didn't want to leave the car and got into "a heated argument" with Powell. Carter said the argument continued after Powell pulled Sartain out of the car and Sartain punched Powell in the face, and he hit her back. Carter said Gerstel told Powell, "You just knocked my cousin down," and Powell responded by telling her, "I will knock you down, too" and used an expletive. Powell first shot Gerstel and then shot Sartain as she tried to run away, Carter testified.
Oakland police said at least two dozen bullet casings were found at the scene. Stallworth admitted in his opening statement that Powell fatally shot Gerstel and Sartain but told jurors that he should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because he couldn't make intelligent decisions since he had a troubled childhood and was under the influence of drugs.
Prosecutor Melissa Dooher said in her opening statement that she will ask jurors to find Powell guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, saying that the evidence in the case proves that he was the shooter.
Edwards, 23, is standing trial with Powell on a charge of being an accessory after the fact for allegedly driving Powell away from the shooting scene. He's already serving a term of 95 years to life in state prison in an unrelated incident.