Judge says no one appears innocent in 2020 fatal Oakland shooting but upholds murder charge
OAKLAND — While upholding a murder charge against an Oakland man, an Alameda County judge remarked that nobody appeared “innocent” in an August 2020 killing and wondered how a jury would react to the same evidence.
Dante Curley, 23, is charged with murder in the death of 19-year-old Quinton Williams III. He also faces attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting and wounding Williams’ friend, also 19, and for shooting at, but not injuring, a third person in the car during the Aug. 1, 2020 attack on 35th Avenue in Oakland.
During Curley’s preliminary hearing in late March, Judge Mark McCannon said the evidence presented by prosecutors “might be a problem” if Curley’s case goes to trial, but said that the Alameda County District Attorney’s office had met the low legal burden required to advance the case.
“It’s not a clean case, but there’s enough there,” McCannon said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Curley was charged about a month after the shooting. The case against Curley’s co-defendant, Marquise Williams, has been stalled since early 2021, when Williams’ lawyer told a judge he doubted that Williams was mentally competent to stand trial and required evaluation by doctors.
But much of the evidence against Curley centers on statements allegedly made by Marquise Williams to police. Williams allegedly told authorities that Curley fired at a car containing all three victims because he feared at least one person in the vehicle was about to start shooting at them. He said Curley had been confronted by the victims in the Queen of Sheba Market in Oakland just minutes before the shooting.
“He called it goofy gang (expletive), that that was the motive, that he was not a gang member,” Oakland police Det. Jose Barocio testified at the hearing.
During cross examination, Barocio acknowledged a review of surveillance footage from the store and a nearby residence showed that Curley was confronted by the victims before the shooting, and that at least two of them appeared to be possessing guns inside the store. He said that Curley also appeared to arm himself after the confrontation, according to court records.
Marquise Williams also told police Curley backed down from the confrontation, telling the men he didn’t want any problems, and that he was there to buy “baby essentials” for his child, according to Barocio’s testimony.
Curley’s lawyer, Colin Cooper, argued that the shooting was self-defense and noted that people in the car with Quinton Williams III appeared to shoot at Curley and Marquise Williams. Prosecutors said that it was clear after the shooting Curley got a pistol ready and shot first.
Curley pleaded not guilty at a subsequent arraignment. His trial date has not yet been set.