OAKLAND -- The intended target of a July 17 shooting that left an 8-year-old girl dead and her two young friends and their grandmother wounded had never been to the Oakland apartment that authorities said was sprayed with gunfire in retaliation for a Berkeley homicide earlier that day, according testimony at the preliminary hearing for two suspected gang members charged in the attack.

An Alameda County prosecutor began presenting evidence against alleged shooter Darnell Williams, 22, and alleged accomplice Joe Carroll, 27, on Tuesday, a day after Berkeley police arrested 25-year-old Pittsburg resident Antiown York on suspicion of murder in the death of Carroll's cousin, Jermaine Davis, 26.

Darnell Williams, 22, is accused of shooting and killing 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in July and Anthony Medearis in Berkeley on Sept. 8, according to
Darnell Williams, 22, is accused of shooting and killing 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in July and Anthony Medearis in Berkeley on Sept. 8, according to police. (Alameda County Sheriff's Department) (David DeBolt)

York's 8-year-old daughter took the witness stand and meekly described how she, her 4-year-old brother and her slain best friend, Alaysha Carradine, were "playing school" in the minutes before they excitedly answered a doorbell in anticipation of her mother's return home from work.

With her eyes squeezed shut tight and her hands shielding her cherubic face, the second-grader refused to talk about the gun that fired in the apartment, hitting her in the shoulder, her little brother in the chest, her grandmother in thigh, and Alaysha in the throat.

"Where's mommy, where's mommy," a little girl voice can be heard on the darken video footage of the aftermath of the Dimond District shooting recorded by a camera that was fastened to Oakland police Officer Jason Mitchell's chest.

Outside the courtroom, Chiquita Carradine said she recognized the voice as her daughter, Alaysha, who had been at a sleepover at the apartment that night.

"That was the most gruesome thing I've ever had to sit through and be strong," Carradine said tearfully of the video that captured audio of the end of her young daughter's life and the cries of the other wounded children.

Alaysha Carradine   (Family photo)
Alaysha Carradine (Family photo) ( mdufrene )

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office will decide sometime after the preliminary hearing whether to seek the death penalty against Williams, who is also charged with murder in the Sept. 8 death of Anthony Medearis in Berkeley.

Authorities have said he fired into the doorway of York's children's home because he believed York killed Davis.

Court documents show Williams and Carroll knew that York's children and his mother lived in the Dimond District apartment.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley has said the men went to the Wilson Avenue apartment intent on killing someone they believed was responsible for Davis' killing and "did not care" who was inside when they opened fire.

According to the children's mother, Brea Colbert, York had never even stepped into the apartment. He was estranged from her and the children since sometime in 2009 when she got a domestic violence restraining order against him. Colbert said that before the break up, she knew York and Carroll to be close friends.

"He wasn't father enough to take care of the kids and everybody knew that," Colbert said while looking pointedly at the defendants.

Carradine and her supporters sobbed in the courtroom as Oakland paramedic Julie Silva described Alaysha screaming, "I'm dying, I'm dying."

After the testimony, Carradine stood up, turned to the defendants and said, "I hope your (expletive) burns in hell."

Alaysha, whose family called her "Ladybug," would have started third grade at Fruitvale Elementary School in the fall. Her death was Oakland's 54th homicide of 2013.

Testimony continues Wednesday.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.