Tale of Two Cities Podcast: Love and Heartbreak

“Tale of Two Cities” is back! On this episode we bring you stories about the different ways life brings us love and heartache. Tune in to hear stories about: how two Bay Area gay couples found each other, a young poet who writes love letters to his city and how Oakland Raiders fans are dealing with their…

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Blacknell sentenced to life without parole for 2009 crime spree

blacknell, melson, russell

Joe “Fatter” Blacknell III was sentenced to life in prison plus more than 200 years without possibility of parole for the March 2009 murder of an up-and-coming East Bay rap artist and a September 2009 shooting and carjacking spree in Richmond and Oakland. Blacknell, now 21, was arrested after a brief foot pursuit with Richmond…

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Jailhouse interview with Joe ‘Fatter’ Blacknell, who faces life in prison for ’09 slaying

joe fatter blacknell

How do you say hello to a convicted murderer? The thought darted through my head as I strode through the Martinez Courthouse jail facility’s winding corridors of concrete and steel. In moments I would be face-to-face—albeit divided by two-inch thick Plexiglas—with Joe Blacknell III, the young man described by police and District Attorney’s Office officials…

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Trial begins in 2011 shooting death of Gene Deshawn Grisby-Bell

gene deshawn grisby bell terry bell

For Gene Deshawn Grisby-Bell, a toxic mixture of neighborhood feuds, searing juvenile emotions, a small-caliber handgun and bad luck led to the end of his promising young life on a January afternoon in 2011. Grisby-Bell, a 16-year-old El Cerrito High School student and football player, was walking from his grandmother’s Crescent Park apartment when a…

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Blacknell’s mother takes stand in Richmond murder case

shawny bo and joe fatter blacknell

Joe Blacknell III’s mother took the stand in his defense Wednesday, testifying that her son is a hip-hop fan and father of three, and not a violent gang member who killed one man and wounded at least four others in 2009, as police and prosecutors allege. “You guys make him out to be this,” said…

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Despite intense interrogation, Blacknell’s story consistent

joe blacknell III

The burly detective turned up the intensity, sometimes yelling in a bass-heavy bellow, cursing frequently. His partner chipped in some grim facts—she reminded the 18-year-old suspect about the prospects of a lifetime behind bars. And it wasn’t just a tough-talk routine. The detectives feigned that they had evidence—DNA, surveillance and witnesses—solid as the iron bars…

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