The families of two young men from Berkeley who were shot inside an Oakland art gallery in 2016 decried a plea deal this week that added no time to the sentence of killer Otis Wyatt, who is already heading to prison in a separate murder case.
Relatives of Craig Fletcher-Cooks, 20, and Terrence McCrary Jr., 22, addressed Wyatt and the court during a sentencing hearing before Judge Kimberly Colwell.
"I am sorry — this is a farce," said Mary Cazden, Fletcher-Cooks' foster mother. "You already are sitting in jail for murdering one person. You murdered two more and you're going to do no extra time."
In the wake of the plea deal, the families said it felt like Wyatt had killed three young men for the price of one. And it didn't feel like justice.
This is a case we've been following for many years, since the beginning. Over that time, it's been an honor to meet and get to know these families to varying degrees.
Don't miss our latest Scanner deep dive.
We have lots of other irons in the fire, from court records to Berkeley cases to an update on the recall.
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Standing up for the First Amendment: The Latest
We wanted to update you briefly on the First Amendment situation.
- In their latest letter to DA Pamela Price, the First Amendment Coalition, SPJ NorCal and RCFP urged the DA's office this week to "abandon a misguided attempt to create a credentialing process for routine news conferences." Here's why.
- Also this week, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker wrote about what happened to me in two separate pieces: First being barred and then being welcomed back. We spoke to them at some length.
- Finally, on Thursday night, the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council hosted DA Pamela Price in conversation with North Oakland community members. I watched part of the meeting from home on Zoom. One of the questions focused on how Price and her office had handled the situation with me outside her press room.
- It was disturbing, to say the least, to see her misrepresent that situation and continue to claim what happened was "inadvertent." Here's why.
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For the record, I am happy to move on from the issue as long as standard best practices are followed and constitutional rights around press freedoms are respected. But it doesn't quite seem that Price has gotten the memo.
Fact: Her office knows I am a daily news reporter who has been covering many of her decisions closely since February. Legally, that should have been enough to get me in the door to a general press conference.— The Berkeley Scanner (@BerkeleyScanner) December 15, 2023
Fact: I had been asking for six weeks to be put back on the press email announcement list. Even if my original removal from the list was "inadvertent," this was an easy fix. Her office failed to take action until there was a public outcry.— The Berkeley Scanner (@BerkeleyScanner) December 15, 2023
At tonight's meeting, Price said, of me, "When this person showed up and said, "I demand entry,' that was not OK." Fact: I never demanded entry. I did have a civil conversation with her staff re: why it was inappropriate to bar me. Calling this a "demand" is entirely unfounded.— The Berkeley Scanner (@BerkeleyScanner) December 15, 2023
The truth of the matter is that Pamela Price and her office should apologize for violating the First Amendment. They already issued a press release saying I am now "welcome" at their events. But they still have not taken true responsibility for violating my constitutional rights.— The Berkeley Scanner (@BerkeleyScanner) December 15, 2023
Many people have reacted strongly to what happened Thursday night. As of publication time, nearly 38,000 people had seen the thread and many had responded to it or amplified it.
We appreciate the support.
Here's wishing everyone a safe weekend as we get closer to the holidays. Hopefully, everyone has done their shopping and made all their USPS trips for the month. Those lines are no joke.
On our end, we're really hoping to answer more of our member emails this weekend. Thank you all for your patience and generosity — since launch and during this recent period of heightened tension.