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Confusion over how Berkeley brawl ended with fatal stabbing

By Owen Weldon     May 5, 2008 in Crime
Witnesses and Berkeley police agree that over the weekend there was a violent, confusing and alcohol-drenched argument that took place in a UC Berkeley parking lot.
All of the above is clear to police but they are having a hard time figuring out how it ended in a fatal stabbing of a UC Berkeley student.
On Saturday morning, sometime before 3 a.m. a group of two young people were screaming at each other while women in the Chi Omega sorority were watching and screaming for them to stop.
The groups did not stop the arguing until Christopher Wootton stepped out of the group with wounds that were caused by a knife.
Wootton had a promising life ahead of him and he was an engineering student and in a blink of an eye his life was taken and now a Berkeley City College student is in jail and facing possible homicide charges.
Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, 20, will be appearing in Superior Court on Tuesday and he is booked on suspicion of fatally stabbing Wootton, 21, during a drunken confrontation that occurred in a parking lot of a sorority house that is not far from campus.
Hoeft-Edenfield was with two other men when they got into a shouting match with Wootton, who was with a group of several UC Berkeley fraternity members. Police believe that alcohol played a huge part in the incident even though Sigma Pi member and past president Ryan Rudnitsky, 22, said that he saw Wootton about an hour before the incident and he was sober.
At 2:30 a.m. the argument erupted between Wootton's group, the Sigma Pi fraternity, and another smaller group made up of three young men and a woman. Witnesses say that the argument started on a walkway between the Chi Omega sorority and a parking lot in the back.
Witnesses say that people were basically screaming and one witnesses, who saw the fight from across the street, said that there were about 20 Sigma Pis around the entrance of the parking lot and they were holding some of their guys back and trying to prevent them from fighting with the other guys.
One witness said that the groups were not backing down from each other and it looked like they were waiting for one of them to back down but nobody did.
The witness said that the suspect was wearing baggy clothes and a black sweatshirt yelled and told the other group to back up or he was going to strike them.
When Wootton was stabbed he managed to get away from the men and then he collapsed on the ground. His friends took off their shirts and pressed down on the wound and when paramedics arrived, which was around 3 a.m., it was already to late because time was running out and Wootton died on the way to the hospital.
Sharon Priddy is Wootton's grandmother and she described her grandson as a kid who had everything going for him and she said that the incident was senseless and terrible.
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Josh Wootton, 25, described his brother as a person who had plans for his life and he said that his brother thought out every decision.
Josh also said that his brother was devoted to his religion and liked to party. There were signs that Chris Wootton like to fight occasionally on his Myspace page.
On one of Chris's recent entries he talks about how he got into a fight outside of the fraternity house while he was trying to protect his brother, who was there visiting.
He goes on and describes the fight and said that he was drunk but he did not black out and he also wrote about how he ran outside to confront a guy who wanted to fight his brother. He goes on to write about how he swung a left and a right hand but only landing a right punch that accidentally hit his brother and he wrote that he was sorry for hitting his brother.
According to Chris's Myspace account the two brothers end up grinding the man's face into the pavement.
Police say that Hoeft-Edenfield was attending a party down the street and that he and Wootton did not know each other.
On Sunday 20-year-old Brandy DeOrnellas, Wootton's girlfriend, went to the Sigma Pi house to mourn with friends.
She described her boyfriend as a person who would always be the one who was the mediator during altercations and she believes that is what happen during the incident.
She said that Chris has turned down scholarships to some of the best schools such as MIT and UC Santa Barbara and he decided to do his graduate work at UC Berkeley so he would remain close to his girlfriend and friends.
Another senseless death that could have been avoided if one of the groups just walked away. It does not matter how this happen because what done is done and the person who committed this act just ruined his whole life.
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