OAKLAND — A former Berkeley City College student who is claiming self-defense in the stabbing death of a UC Berkeley student was denied bail Monday.
Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, 20, accused of stabbing Christopher Wootton, 21, to death with a 3½-inch knife, requested bail be set because, his attorney said, the case should not be charged as a murder.
Hoeft-Edenfield was arrested shortly after the May 3 stabbing when he was identified by witnesses as the man who stabbed Wootton during a fight outside the Chi Omega sorority house on the 2400 block of Warring Street.
Police said the fight was between about 15 members of Wootton's Sigma Pi fraternity and Hoeft-Edenfield and two or three of his friends.
Police have described the altercation as a fight between drunken college students that escalated into a stabbing. Hoeft-Edenfield allegedly stabbed Wootton on the left side. The knife blade punctured Wootton's heart.
But on Monday, defense attorney Yolanda Huang said the stabbing was self-defense and argued that Hoeft-Edenfield had warned the group to "back off."
"They were afraid, and he used the knife to get people to back off," Huang argued in court. "It was a pocket knife that he used for his job opening boxes."
Huang cited witness statements taken by police that said Hoeft-Edenfield brandished the knife only after he was surrounded by the group. Those witnesses also said, according to Huang, that Hoeft-Edenfield warned the group to step away.
Although Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson praised Huang for her argument, he ultimately sided with Deputy District Attorney Greg Dolge, who argued that the case was a murder.
Jacobson said Hoeft-Edenfield's actions after the incident and the fact that he gave conflicting statements to police about what happened do not present enough evidence to allow him to set a bail.
Before Jacobson made his ruling, Dolge pointed to other evidence the district attorney's office used when it decided to charge Hoeft-Edenfield with murder.
Dolge said that Hoeft-Edenfield could have left the scene long before he was surrounded by others and he said the defendant was never threatened with a weapon.
"Mr. Hoeft-Edenfield knows he is the only one with the weapon," Dolge said. "At the end of the fight, there is only one guy hurt, and that is the victim."
In addition, Dolge said, Hoeft-Edenfield tried to cover his actions after the fight.
According to Dolge, the defendant tried to conceal the knife by throwing it away and then went to a friends' house and immediately threw his bloodied clothes in the wash.
Based on those arguments, Jacobson said he could not set a bail and continued the case until Monday, when Hoeft-Edenfield is scheduled to enter a plea.
Paul T. Rosynsky can be reached at 510-208-6455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.