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Berkeley Couple Charged In Hatchet Murder Of ‘Noteman’ Bandit

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) — A Berkeley man and his girlfriend were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court Thursday on special circumstance murder charges for the hatchet killing of a man convicted years ago of using polite notes to rob businesses.

Michael Diggs, 28, and Kneitawnye Sessoms, 40, his girlfriend, also of Berkeley, were charged in connection with the slaying of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, who was found dead at his Berkeley 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.

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

Fuselier was arrested in 1996 for a series of robberies at businesses that involved him handing clerks politely-written notes demanding cash. He was dubbed the “Noteman” Bandit

According to court records cited by the San Francisco Chronicle, Fuselier was convicted of second-degree robbery and sentenced to five years in prison.

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 Hong.

Diggs was filmed leaving the back of the apartment several hours later, he 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 Tuesday 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 Monday and admitted she was the woman captured on the video leaving the apartment, according to Hong.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has charged Diggs and Sessoms with murder and the special circumstances of murder during the course of a burglary and robbery.

Diggs was also charged with an enhancement for allegedly using a hatchet to kill Fuselier.

The two could face the death penalty or life in prison with no possibility of parole if convicted. Both are being held without bail.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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