OAKLAND — Curtis Martin, the man accused of killing his girlfriend and dumping her body in a parking lot at Aquatic Park in Berkeley, also was charged Tuesday with killing her 17-month-old son, making the violent felon eligible for the death penalty.
The charges revealed new details about the killing of Zoelina Williams, 23, and her 17-month-old son, Jashon. A child's body, which the District Attorney's Office says is Jashon's, was found in the Bay near the Berkeley Marina.
In addition to being charged with two murders, Martin was charged with two special circumstances: multiple murders and killing a witness to a crime. Therefore, it appears, authorities think Martin killed the toddler while Williams watched, before he killed the 23-year-old mother.
Martin also is charged with several enhancements to the crime and with two prior felonies, a 1992 conviction of being in possession of an assault weapon and a 1994 conviction of voluntary manslaughter.
Together, the charges could result in Martin being sentenced to death or spending the rest of his life in jail without the possibility of parole.
"This is just terrible," a sobbing relative of Williams said outside of court.
Martin was arrested Friday after police found Williams' body at Aquatic Park in Berkeley. Police were able to track him down because an officer had stopped Martin in the park just before the body was found.
The officer let Martin go because he did not suspect any wrongdoing, but Martin's name and a partial license plate number of the van he was driving was recorded before he was released.
After the announcement of Williams' death, family members quickly notified police that her son was missing. On Sunday morning, kayakers in the Bay discovered a child's body floating in the water near the Berkeley Marina.
The Alameda County coroner's office had said it had not identified the body as of Tuesday, but when Martin appeared in court later in the day, he was charged with killing the boy.
If found guilty of killing the toddler, it would be Martin's second conviction for killing a child.
In 1994, Martin pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of Devin Brewer, the 3-year-old son of Martin's then-girlfriend. Brewer was pronounced dead at Children's Hospital Oakland, after suffering trauma to the head, his family members said Tuesday.
Although Martin was charged with murder in the crime, he took a plea deal that resulted in him being sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was released in six years after receiving credit for time served.
Brewer's family members appeared in court Tuesday, they said, to make sure Martin gets the most severe punishment possible.
"We're going to deal with it this time," said Orlando Williams, 44, Brewer's uncle. "Obviously, this man has some kind of issues and he shouldn't be on the streets."
Law enforcement officials had a chance to take Martin off the streets last year after he violated a restraining order filed against him by a girlfriend.
According to court documents, the girlfriend said she was choked and had her ribs bruised during an altercation with Martin in December 2007. She was treated at Highland Hospital for her injuries, but she gave police a false name for the man she accused of beating her.
Without Martin's real name, police could not track him down or build a case against him for an arrest, court documents show.
Eight months later, however, the same woman told police that Martin had become abusive toward her and threatened her 13-year-old son, saying if he "was of age, he would hurt him."
The threats persuaded the 34-year-old woman to seek a restraining order in which she said Martin needed "mental help," court documents show.
The restraining order was granted.
However, Martin violated the order days after it was filed, telling the woman that he didn't "give a (expletive) about a restraining order," and he would "get a chopper and turn you into Swiss cheese."
Police arrested Martin for violating the restraining order but released him eight hours later.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office never filed charges against Martin.
It remains unclear why charges were not filed. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Tuesday that her office is "looking into all aspects of the case."
Authorities said it was unclear, at the time, if the restraining order had been processed.
Martin is scheduled to appear in court again Thursday, where he is scheduled to enter a plea.
Staff writers Kristin Bender and Harry Harris contributed to this story.