BERKELEY -- Two suspects accused in the killing of the "Noteman" robber, whose literate holdup notes were his trademark in East Bay robberies 20 years ago, have been charged with murder with special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.

Berkeley residents Michael Diggs, 28, and Kneitawnye Sessoms, 40, were charged Thursday in connection with their arrest in the slaying of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier in February. Fuselier was found dead Feb. 28 at his apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street after police were asked by a friend to do a welfare check on him.

Sessoms was arrested Tuesday, and Diggs has been in custody since being arrested for a parole violation on March 12.

Fuselier was a suspect in 16 commercial robberies between 1994 and 1996, mostly in Berkeley and Oakland, when a robber left literate, even humorous, holdup notes that led to the "Noteman" nickname, according to Oakland Tribune archives.

Fuselier never brandished a gun during his robberies and tried to avoid confrontation at all costs, according to police at the time. He was later convicted of second-degree robbery for one of the heists and was discharged from prison after serving an undisclosed sentence in May 2004, according to records from the California Department of Corrections. Fuselier was busted after leaving fingerprints on a book he brought to a cash register while he allegedly tried to rob a Barnes & Noble bookstore in 1996.


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Police have not revealed how Fuselier may have known Diggs and Sessoms.

The special circumstances were included in the charges because the killing came while Diggs and Sessoms were allegedly committing a robbery and/or burglary, court documents said.

Both were to be arraigned Thursday and were being held without bail.

According to an affidavit by Berkeley police Sgt. Peter Hong, Diggs admitted to killing Fuselier with two sharp instruments. Diggs and Sessoms were seen in surveillance video entering the apartment with Fuselier on Feb. 21. On Feb. 22, Sessoms was seen on tape leaving the apartment and wiping off the door as she left.

Police arrested Diggs on suspicion of possessing burglary tools and parole violation on March 12. Investigators later found property belonging to Fuselier during a search of Diggs' apartment authorized by a warrant.

Sessoms, reportedly Diggs' girlfriend, later admitted she was the woman leaving the apartment, Hong wrote in the affidavit.

Diggs was convicted of felony carjacking in 2006 and served an undisclosed prison term.

The arrests of Diggs and Sessoms has brought back attention to Fuselier's string of robberies in Alameda County two decades ago.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789, and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh.