Bay Citizen

Mayor shares Richmond’s year in review, year ahead

The mayor and many of the 50 or so residents who filled the Whittlesey Community Room Friday night said it countless different ways, but it all boiled down to the same thing: 2011 was a great year in Richmond. “I can’t think of a place I’d rather live right now,” said longtime resident Mike Peritz. The year behind and the year ahead were the topics during the open gathering held by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and touted as a state-of-the-city report…

Witnesses recall red van tailing Marcus Russell in days before his murder

In the days before he was shot and killed while driving his grandmother’s Nissan Maxima on I-580, Marcus Russell was nervous about simmering neighborhood tensions and a red minivan that seemed to be following him around Richmond, Russell’s friends and family testified in Contra Costa County Court Thursday. “You know your children,” Faith Russell, Marcus’ mother, said from the witness stand. “And it looked like something was bothering him.” The day of testimony wrapped up the third week of proceedings…

Witness describes shooting, 2009 death of Marcus Russell

When the red van pulled alongside their driver’s side door, the long barrel of an assault rifle was jutting out the window – but it was quiet. “They waited for a second, for Marcus to look up,” said a young woman seated at the witness stand, wearing a checkered jacket and a pained scowl. “Did Marcus say anything?” asked Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts. “He said ‘oh (expletive),’” she replied. “That’s when the shooting started.” In the most explosive day…

Sergeant testifies he was denied promotion in descrimination suit against Chief Magnus

In 2007, eight high-ranking African American police officers sued the city of Richmond, accusing police Chief Chris Magnus and former Deputy Chief Lori Ritter of racial discrimination. The civil trial is now in its third week in Contra Costa Superior Court in Martinez. The plaintiffs—one of whom has since retired from the department and dropped his name from the suit—sued in March 2007, just over a year after Magnus was hired from Fargo, North Dakota. The suit alleges that Magnus…

Gunshot residue found on sweater of alleged Richmond shooter

The black-hooded sweatshirt Joe Blacknell III wore on the day he allegedly shot four people and missed two others had minute traces of gunshot residue on it, but not enough to definitively conclude that he fired a gun, a Los Angeles County criminalist testified Wednesday at Contra Costa Superior Court in Martinez. Blacknell is an alleged Richmond gang member accused of committing 22 felonies in 2009, including the murder of rap artist Marcus Russell. Margaret Kaleuaty, an expert in gunshot…

Eyewitness struggles to recall Blacknell at scene of carjacking in Richmond case

One witness didn’t show, two were several hours late, and the most pivotal one had a foggy memory. On the fifth day of testimony in one of the most anticipated criminal cases coming out of Richmond in recent years, the prosecution slogged through a series of unwanted developments and uncooperative witnesses. “So you’re saying all of the testimony here is the truth?” Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts asked his witness, who appeared to contradict his own testimony on several occasions….