[News] Twin sisters held in death of cop in 1970

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Thu Jun 17 11:34:09 EDT 2004



BERKELEY
Twin sisters held in death of cop in 1970
Women accused of being accessories to killing of rookie

<mailto:hlee at sfchronicle.com>Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 17, 2004




Twin sisters from Oakland have been arrested on suspicion of aiding the 
killers of a Berkeley police officer in a 1970 slaying that authorities 
believe was connected to the Black Panthers.

Joyce Gaskin and Joy Hall, both 53, were accompanied by their attorneys 
when they turned themselves in Tuesday, but they declined to speak to 
police, authorities said. Each is being held at Berkeley City Jail in lieu 
of $250,000 bail on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact to murder.

The Alameda County district attorney's office is expected to review the 
case today.

"Our intent is to charge everybody, whether or not they were the 
participants or were the people who withheld the information then or now," 
Berkeley police Lt. Russ Lopes said Wednesday. "We want them all."

Lopes, who is investigating cold cases for the department, declined to 
detail the evidence against the sisters or their connection to convicted 
burglar Don Juan Warren Graphenreed. A former member of the Black Panthers, 
Graphenreed was taken into custody last month in the Aug. 20, 1970, slaying 
of Officer Ronald Tsukamoto, 28, a newlywed with only 11 months on the job.

Graphenreed, 54, of San Francisco, was not charged in the slaying but 
remains a suspect and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at Fresno 
County Jail on unrelated charges of robbery and petty theft.

But a law-enforcement source confirmed that the women were associates of 
the Black Panthers and had connections to a group of men suspected of being 
the primary participants in Tsukamoto's killing, which happened during a 
traffic stop on University Avenue.

In March, police searched the sisters' Oakland homes and that of their 
mother, Betty Mae Edwards, 82, said George Holland, an Oakland lawyer who 
represented Gaskin in connection with the search.

"They trashed the place" and confiscated -- and later returned -- several 
guns belonging to Gaskin's husband, Stephen, Holland said.

Stephen Gaskin did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Edwards said 
she was in ill health and had no immediate response to her daughters' arrests.

Tsukamoto's family declined comment.

Gaskin and her husband operate Panda Day Care out of their home on 63rd 
Street in North Oakland. Hall works as a schoolteacher.

The sisters "have led blameless lives for many years," said Gaskin's 
attorney, Jules Bonjour of Hayward. "These women are very anxious to get 
this situation clarified."

The case could have significant problems legally, Bonjour said, because the 
statute of limitations for the charge of accessory after the fact is three 
years.

Thomas Broome, Hall's attorney, said, "Certainly there's a connection 
between them and the Black Panthers. They were just kids then at the time 
this took place."

In 1980, Broome represented Edward Brooks, the Black Guerrilla Family 
member who shot and partly paralyzed Fay Stender, an attorney for George 
Jackson, the founder of the group.

Broome said the defense had not seen any paperwork in the case against the 
sisters. "I want to see the evidence," he said.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at <mailto:hlee at sfchronicle.com>hlee at sfchronicle.com.

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