37-year-old Tikisha Upshaw, a San Leandro marijuana grower, has been charged with special circumstances murder and other crimes for allegedly hiring two people from Tennessee to kill a man in in Cherryland in unincorporated Alameda County last July, sheriff’s officials said.
When Upshaw was arrested last Thursday, detectives located a sophisticated and illegal marijuana grow at her home in San Leandro.
Sheriff’s officials said their investigation showed that Upshaw and her associate Wessley Brown, 38, of Berkeley, hired two individuals from Tennessee, Johnny Will Wright Jr., 46 and Chariott Burks, 25 “specifically to kill (38-year-old Antioch resident Adan) Katami.”
Upshaw has been charged with murder, the special circumstance of committing a murder for financial gain and other offenses for the fatal shooting of Adan Farrid Katami on southbound Meekland Avenue at about 1 p.m. on July 13 as he was stopped while waiting to make a left turn onto Blossom Hill Road. Brown was arrested in Berkeley last Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office.
A gunman, later identified as Johnny Will Wright Jr, got out of a red Jeep Wrangler, approached Katami and brutally shot him multiple times at close range, according to the sheriff’s office.
Immediately following the shooting Wright fled on foot down nearby railroad tracks. Deputies responded and shut down the intersection, where Katami was discovered and pronounced dead.
Sheriff’s deputies set up a tight perimeter, used special reconnaissance dogs and a helicopter and reviewed surveillance footage to search for Wright, who was then arrested in front of 19352 Via Marlin in San Lorenzo a short time after the shooting, according to sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Paxon.
Paxton wrote in a probable cause statement, “Wright’s distinctive shoes match those of the suspect depicted in the video surveillance” and multiple witnesses identified him as being the shooter.
Paxton said Chariott Burks, 25, also of Memphis, was arrested in the red Jeep Wrangler in front of 15960 Hesperian Blvd. in San Lorenzo, near the location where Wright was arrested.
Wright and Burks were charged with murder in July, but sheriff’s officials wanted to know why they came all the way from Tennessee to kill Katami.
In addition to homicide, Wright is charged with the special circumstance of committing a murder by means of lying in wait.
He’s also charged with shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Prosecutors allege that Wright has three prior convictions dating back to 1999: aggravated assault, possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and being a felon in possession of a firearm in a school zone.
Wright and Burks are scheduled to return to court on Jan. 6 for a pretrial hearing while Upshaw and Brown have been already arraigned. The pair are scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court this week to be assigned attorneys and possibly enter a plea, prosecutors said.