DUBLIN — At about 11:45 a.m. on Sept. 13, deputies at the Santa Rita Jail brought 33-year-old Bryson Levy to a new cell that was already occupied by Yuri Brand, an El Cerrito man on pretrial detention for allegedly living at a stranger’s unoccupied Piedmont home without permission for two days.
Just 46 minutes later, Brand was found, dead, underneath a jail mattress and Levy, who stayed on top of Brand’s body until deputies ordered him to be handcuffed for removal from the cell, according to court records. Levy was re-arrested in the jail, and on Monday, Alameda County prosecutors formally charged him with one count of murder, though the exact cause of Brand’s death is unclear.
There are no indications the two men knew one another, and the actual cell placement was routine, according to authorities. It’s unknown exactly when Levy allegedly killed Yuri, but say deputies noticed a “disturbance” at 12:28 p.m. on Sept. 13, exactly 46 minutes after Levy was transferred to the cell. Neither prosecutors nor the Alameda County Sheriff’s office have commented on the suspected motive.
A probable cause declaration filed by an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy says that Levy made unspecified “statements” that further indicated he killed Brand.
The two men had both been booked into Santa Rita Jail within 48 hours of the homicide, for alleged property crimes. Levy, who was living at a halfway house through a program called Men of Valor, allegedly ransacked the home and broke $3,500 worth of furniture on Sept. 12. The damage was well above the $400 threshold for a felony vandalism charge, but prosecutors elected to charge him with a misdemeanor, court records show.
Brand, who had schizophrenia, was charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor trespassing for allegedly breaking into a Piedmont home and consuming $1,000 worth of food and alcohol. He was arrested Sept. 11, court records show.
But Levy has had regular brushes with the law since 2016, when he was arrested in Oakland on suspicion of sexually assaulting a stranger. In that incident, police say Levy noticed a woman walking past him, began yelling sexual innuendo, then took out his penis, knocked the victim down, and forced her to orally copulate him. The sexual assault ended only because the victim was able to bite Levy and run, but he chased her and touched her private parts while she screamed for help, eventually attracting the attention of a samaritan who called 911.
In that case, Levy pleaded no contest to forcible oral copulation, received six years in state prison, and was forced to register as a sex offender for life. He paroled from prison in August 2021, but racked up parole violations for absconding from a GPS monitoring program, failing to take drug tests, and being arrested on suspicion of petty theft, court records show. He also spent time in a Men of Valor halfway house in late 2021, then re-entered the program this year, court records show.