OAKLAND prosecutors will seek life imprisonment for probation for murder and attempted murder in the unprovoked assault of two young women in a subway station, Alameda County district attorney said Wednesday.
District Attorney Alameda County Nancy O & # 39; Malley said authorities continue to investigate whether John Cowell, 27, was motivated by Rassenhass when he killed Nia Wilson, 1
The women are black and he is white.
"It's the worst time of her life to meet with the family of victims," said O & Malley.
"My heart is broken for her and for our community as a whole," she said after the hearing. "It shook the community, it shook us all."
Cowell did not file a petition in a brief hearing and his indictment was withheld until next month. The courtroom was filled with about two dozen members of Wilson's family. A woman moaned after the hearing ended.
The death of the young woman led to a vigil, which later rose to a crowd of about a thousand men marching across the bay from downtown San Francisco, San Francisco.
A plaque hid Cowell from view, but court artist Vicki Ellen Behringer could see him. He looked down most of the time listening, she said, and then he smiled slightly. Cowell had a tattoo on his chest and a bandage on his forehead, she said.
Cowell's attorney George Arroyo slipped out the back door after the hearing and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cowell was arrested Monday night in a Bay Area express, about 12 miles from MacArthur Station, where the women were attacked.
The authorities have not published a motive for the attack, but Cowell's family told KRON-TV in a statement that he had suffered from "mental illness" "most of his life". Cowell was in and out of jail without receiving proper treatment, the family claimed.
Nia's father, Ansar Muhammad, said on Wednesday he was of the opinion that a mental illness was an excuse and he felt his daughters were being attacked because they were black.
"I think it's an excuse, I hate to say that, but, you know, why would you choose two black girls?" Mohammed said in court before Cowell's show
Mohammed said Nia graduated from the Dewey Academy in December "with very high honors" and planned to join the military.
"I should plan their graduation, not their funeral," he said.
Records indicate that Cowell recently served two years for second-degree robbery and also had battery power under the influence of a controlled substance and attack with a deadly weapon, the East Bay Times reported. 19659002] Cowell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the family said.
He was released from the state Atascadero mental hospital in May, but "there was no room for him to close most psychiatric institutions," the family said, adding that "the system has failed in this case. "
" We also had to obtain a restraining order for our own protection, and he lived on the street without proper treatment. "The family sa I would. "This is in no way an excuse for this pointless and malicious attack."
Cowell's mother, Anne Cowell, is serving a three-year prison sentence for setting fire to a temporary shelter in Santa Rosa, said the Sheriff Office of Sonoma County