By Doug Oakley
Bay Area News Group
An Alameda man with a history of mental health problems who is accused of murdering a Berkeley hills resident with a ceramic pot told his 67-year-old victim he was a psychic and that he was told to go through the victim's front gate to find his fiancee named "Zoey" minutes before the attack, according to court documents.
Daniel Jordan Dewitt, 23, was arraigned Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court on one count of murder and is being held without bail. He did not enter a plea and is set to speak to a public defender Thursday.
Dewitt is accused of beating business management consultant Peter Cukor to death with a pot from the victim's porch in an attack Saturday night. Dewitt was covered in blood when he was arrested a short distance away, police said in court documents. Cukor's wife, Andrea, witnessed part of the attack while on the phone with police.
Dewitt's mother, father, grandmother, an aunt and other family members attended the arraignment. In an earlier interview, Dewitt's mother said her son has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
"We always had a fear that he would hurt himself, hurt someone else or end up in jail," the man's father, Al Dewitt, said Wednesday.
|The murder suspect's mother, right, and grandmother leave court Feb. 22 after he was arraigned on one count of murder. (Photo by Doug Oakley)|
Al Dewitt told reporters after the arraignment that Berkeley police "probably could have prevented the attack if they had gotten there on time. They were having conversations with the victim."
Al Dewitt said Zoey was a "made up girlfriend."
Court records show Peter Cukor called police at 8:45 p.m. to report a man in his garage. Berkeley police, however, did not respond to the initial call, which came in on a nonemergency line, because officers were monitoring an Occupy protest and were responding only to emergency calls. City councilwoman Susan Wengraf has asked police to provide a detailed timeline and more details on their response.
Cukor first told Dewitt to get off his property on Park Gate Road, court documents show. Dewitt then came through the front gate, which leads to the front door.
Cukor again told Dewitt to leave and he left. Cukor then walked to the fire station not far from his home to summon help. When he returned, Dewitt attacked him, the statement said. Police responded to the second call for emergency help about 9:02 p.m.
When police arrived and searched the area, they found Dewitt at Shasta Road and Park Gate Road. Dewitt had fresh blood on his hands, sweatshirt, pants and shoes and the knuckles on his right hand were swollen, according to the court statement. Cukor's wife positively identified Dewitt as the suspect, the statement said.
Dewitt admitted he was on the property and described items in the garage and inside the house he had seen while he was looking through the windows, police said in the court documents.
Cukor's adult son, Christopher Cukor, said Wednesday the family is not ready to make any comments on the case.
Dewitt also is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in March in a separate misdemeanor battery case.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.