Suspects plead not guilty in hat­chet killing


A Berkeley man and his girlfriend pleaded not guilty today to special circumstance murder charges for the hatchet killing of a man at his West Berkeley apartment in February.

Michael Diggs, 28, and Kneitawnye Sessoms, 41, his girlfriend, also of Berkeley, are charged in connection with the slaying of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, who was found dead at his apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street, just east of San Pablo Avenue, at about noon on Feb. 28.

Police had been dispatched there for a welfare check after a community member told them that they were concerned because they hadn’t seen Fuselier for several days.

Diggs and Sessoms are charged with murder and the special circumstances of murder during the course of a burglary and robbery. Diggs is also charged with an enhancement for allegedly using a hatchet to kill Fuselier.

Berkeley police Sgt. Peter Hong wrote in a probable cause statement that Fuselier died from wounds “consistent with several sharp instruments,” including a hatchet.

Hong said a surveillance camera at Fuselier’s apartment complex filmed him, Diggs and Sessoms going into his apartment on Feb. 21, a week before his body was found. The next morning, the camera filmed Sessoms leaving the building and apparently “wiping off the door handles,” according to the police sergeant.

Diggs was filmed leaving the back of the apartment several hours later, Hong said. Physical evidence indicated that Diggs, who was convicted of carjacking in 2008, had been inside Fuselier’s apartment and on March 12 he was arrested and a search of his home turned up an item belonging to Fuselier, Hong wrote.

When Diggs was interviewed on April 2 he admitted that he and Sessoms had been inside Fuselier’s home and he “confessed to killing the victim with two different sharp instruments,” according to Hong.

Diggs also admitted that he and Sessoms had fled the apartment on the morning of Feb. 22 and he had taken Fuselier’s property, Hong said. Sessoms was interviewed by police on March 31 and admitted she was the woman captured on the surveillance video leaving Fuselier’s apartment, according to Hong.

Diggs and Sessoms are scheduled to return to court on July 14 for a pretrial hearing.

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