OAKLAND — Days before a well-known transgender activist and teacher is to go on trial facing charges of murdering three family members in 2016, Alameda County prosecutors have signaled their intent to portray her as the enforcer of an all-female outlaw biker club who’d followed one of the victims around after she left the group.
Dana Rivers, 67, of San Jose, has been in police custody since 2016 when she was arrested and charged with murdering Charlotte Reed, 56, her wife Patricia Wright, 57, and Wright’s 19-year-old son, Benny Toto Diambu-Wright, inside their Dunbar Avenue home in Oakland. Rivers is also charged with dousing the garage with gasoline and setting it on fire, an apparent cover-up attempt that was thwarted when a policeman came to the scene just three minutes after a neighbor called 911.
Now, court filings by both defense and prosecuting attorneys are laying out both sides’ views of the case, including details of the killings never before released to the public. The defense filings are not as detailed because, unlike prosecutors, they’re not required to put their cards on the table before a trial begins.
Rivers’ attorney, Melissa Adams, has indicated she will be making a self-defense or “in defense of others” argument before the jury, which is expected to be convened by early next week. In court papers, she has described Wright and Reed’s relationship as “quite volatile” and that Reed initiated a fistfight within a month of the triple-homicide. Adams has also filed a motion to exclude reference to Rivers’ motorcycle club as a “gang,” writing that she’s unaware of the group ever having been classified as such “in this county or any other.”