On Friday, July 29, Diantay Powell stood in Judge C. Don Clay’s courtroom and apologized for murdering two teenage girls in 2012. Clay was unmoved by the apology and sentenced Powell to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 65 years for murdering Bobbie Sartain, 16, and Raquel Gerstel, 15, on Minna Avenue in Oakland’s Allendale neighborhood on Nov. 25, 2012.
According to the District Attorney’s office (DA), Powell shot Gerstel at close range in the head. Sartain ran from the scene. Powell chased her down the street, and fired at least 20 shots at her. She died from 13 gunshot wounds, the DA told the court. According to court reports, Sartain was involved in a romantic relationship with Powell, and Gerstel was involved with Powell’s cousin Antonio Edwards.
The four and another male, Quincy Carter, were in a vehicle at the time of the incident. Carter told the court that Powell asked the girls to leave the car, but they refused. An argument ensued, Sartain slapped Powell and Powell knocked her down. Gerstel tried to intervene, that is when Powell shot her. Sartain then tried to escape.
The Alameda County District Attorney filed first-degree murder charges against Powell for killing Sartain. The DA charged him with second-degree murder for his role in Gerstel’s death. The DA added a special circumstances enhancement to the charges because Powell committed two murders. The DA charged Edwards as an accessory because he drove the car when he, Powell and Carter fled after the murders.
The DA later dropped the charges against Edwards because, if found guilty, he would have received an eight-month sentence. Edwards is already in prison. On Dec. 8, 2012, just 13 days after he drove the get-away car after the Gerstel-Sartain murders, he assaulted and robbed a couple on Ettie Street in West Oakland. The DA charged him with robbery, rape and assault with a deadly weapon. The jury found him guilty in 2015. He is currently serving a 95-year-to-life sentence in San Quentin for those crimes.
On May 12, a jury found Powell guilty of both murders (“Powell Convicted of Local Teens’ Murders,” May 16). Deputy District Attorney Melissa Dooher successfully prosecuted the case for the people. Attorney Darryl Stallworth represented Powell. Stallworth asked the court to reduce the murder charges to two counts of voluntary manslaughter. He told the court that Powell acted in the heat of the moment when the victims provoked him. Stallworth said that his client had been high on an assortment of drugs and cough syrup for two days. “He couldn’t think straight,” Stallworth told the court.
Dooher called Stallworth’s request “ridiculous,” pointing out to the court the number of times Powell shot at Sartain as she fled the scene. Dooher described the victims to the jury as “two little girls.”