Breaking: Guilty Verdict in Darrent Williams - Willie Clark Murder Trial

Update: The judge has released the three questions asked by the jury during deliberations. The second one:

... a question asked yesterday about whether Clark could be found guilty of first-degree murder "as a result of being complicit." The judge said yes.

If, the judge wrote, "you find that another person committed all or part of either the crime of murder in the first degree (extreme indifference) or murder in the first degree (after deliberation)... then the defendant may be found guilty of either or both murder in the first degree."

Update: 12:08 pm. Foreman hands over verdict forms. Judge examines. Count 1: 1st degree murder: Guilty; Count 2: 1st degree murder: Guilty; Guilty on all 21 counts. (Update: Audio clip of reading of verdict here.)

After 11 hours of deliberations, the jury has reached a verdict in the Willie Clark murder trial. He's accused of killing Denver Bronco Darrent Williams. It will be read in 15 minutes.

I haven't been able to blog about the trial because it's too closely related to a certain federal drug case I'm involved in, but I will cover the verdict. [More....]

11:51 a.m. Jury now in the courtroom. Counts 1 and 2 are for first-degree murder (With "extreme indifference" and premeditation) and will be read first.

12:04 pm: Judge: We have a verdict. The Defense asks for DA Mitch Morrissey to be excused from sitting at prosecution table because he hasn't been present for entire trial. Denied. Judge thanks Willie Clark for his demeanor during trial. She hopes she can count on him to continue -- she understands he's hoping for one verdict over another. To those in attendance: Please be good. If you can't handle either verdict, leave now and go to the auxilliary room. She will take action if anyone misbehaves. Everyone rise while jurors come in.

Updates moved to top of post. Here's one later one: Video of DA Tim Twining (lead prosecutor at trial) after verdict: He says the jury unanimously found Willie Clark was both the driver and the shooter. He says the other shooter was "probably" in the front seat of the car (which according to their theory and Daniel Harris' testimony, would make him one of the witnesses jailed for contempt due to his refusal to testify. He says they will seek additional sanctions for the two witnesses held in contempt.

The jury has declined (so far) to speak to the press and the Judge gave them her direct phone line and e-mail address in case anyone bothers them.

< Judiciary Committee Waters Down Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing Bill | S.F. Dismisses 25 Drug Cases, Orders Shut Down of Crime Lab >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I'm still mulling over (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:22:03 PM EST
    what I can say. I did sit through three days of testimony -- including that of Brandon Marshall and Daniel Harris (the key prosecution witness now in the witness protection program) and a few others.

    The jury was one of the youngest I've seen. It was also diverse. The judge did a terrific job handling the trial. She was always so courteous and respectful to Clark, addressing him directly and treating him as a person, not a criminal.

    The security was unprecedented. The trial was on the fourth floor of the courthouse which takes up an entire city block. On the half of the fourth floor that included the courtroom the trial was held in, you couldn't have a cell phone, camera or computer. There was a separate room for media with a live audio feed and no video, but since I was there in my legal capacity, not as media, I had a seat in the courtroom. There were second metal detectors outside the courtroom you had to go through (in addition to the ones entering the building.) Any time they transported Clark or a witness in custody from the holding area to the courtroom, they cleared that side of floor.

    The U.S. Marshals had their own attorney (I think from D.C.) present when Harris testified. Some Assistant U.S. attorneys and defense counsel for various people charged in the related federal drug cases were there for Harris' testimony as well. There were some interesting legal issues that day about what Harris would be allowed to answer about the witness protection program and the Marshal's Service lawyer went to get Main Justice on the phone a few times as the Judge kept reminding him that Harris was in her custody on a writ to testify and she might not agree with him on the restrictions about what he could answer. They eventually worked it out, probably not to the satisfaction of Clark's lawyers.

    There was a lot of hearsay that came in and a lot of leading questions that were not objected to the days I was there --  sometimes the Judge, to her credit in my view, objected on her own.

    The judge was so strict about cell phones, that if she found you had one, you were removed from the court and not allowed back for the rest of the trial. One day she called out some guy with a wire running from his ear to his back collar. I assume he was with the Marshal's service/Witness protection unit. She told him she had to keep the rules the same for everyone and banned him from the rest of the trial due to his cell phone.

    I'm  not going to comment on the evidence or witnesses, or give my opinion as to the strength of the prosecution's case or the tactics/performance by the defense, at least not right now. But that could change, as I said, now that it's over, I'll mulling it over.

    Listening to the audio of the (none / 0) (#5)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:32:55 PM EST
    verdict, I thought the judge was a man!  Was startled when one of the jurors responded, "yes, ma'am" when they were being polled - thought maybe the juror was so nervous, she said "ma'am" by mistake.  Then I heard another juror say "ma'am," and that's when I figured out that I had it all wrong.

    Very weird.


    Darrent Williams' mom: (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by magster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:34:22 PM EST
    ""It has been three years, three months and 11 days, but today ultimately shows that no one wins. My family didn't win. The Clark family didn't win. I lost my son, my only son, and his children lost their father. This doesn't bring him back. But I just want something has to happen in society for us to stop gang violence. It just has to stop."

    I thought (none / 0) (#1)
    by Zorba on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:15:08 PM EST
    that there was definitely a reason such as that when you said you could not comment on the ongoing case awhile ago, Jeralyn.  I look forward to your thoughts on the verdict.

    I am very interested in some of the legal issues.. (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:55:22 PM EST
    ... so if we can't pick your brain because of the closeness with one of your clients, do you know where there is a good forum to go to?

    no, but if you have a question about (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:27:43 PM EST
    a legal aspect of the case, I'll try to answer. Primarily I don't want to opine on the credibility of various prosecution witnesses or on Clark's defense strategy.

    What was the instruction to the jury about .... (none / 0) (#6)
    by magster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:34:17 PM EST
    the witnesses who did not testify despite a court order to do so.

    A juror could think that these witnesses wouldn't testify because they had nothing good to say about Clark, but I don't know if a juror would be allowed to make that inference.

    And I agree with your opinion about Habas.  She's a very sharp judge who did a great job with a difficult trial.



    the instruction (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:50:58 PM EST
    for the two witnesses who refused to testify for the prosecution (and are under indictment for perjury to the grand jury in the case) and who the prosecution and Harris alleged were the other two occupants in the Tahoe, according to this news article:

    Judge Christina Habas read the jurors a statement about the refusal of witnesses Mario Anderson and Kaitana "Markie" Jackson-Keeling to testify. Habas told the jury that both were granted immunity for anything related to the shooting except for perjury, but both refused her order to testify.

    I believe the judge found that since they had voluntarily testified in the case at the grand jury, they didn't have a Fifth Amendment right not to testify, and that fear of reprisals wasn't sufficient to excuse them. But I'm going by news articles on that.

    The third witness who refused to testify was jailed for one night and then changed his mind and testified against Clark.

    Since this is a state case, the pleadings are not online.


    here's the link (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:53:08 PM EST
    to the news article about the instruction.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:06:23 PM EST
    If that's all there was to the instruction, the jury could do with that whatever it wanted, I suppose.

    Tough case... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:49:31 PM EST
    An alternate juror who was dismissed yesterday spoke with several reporters in the hallway a few minutes ago. The juror, a 24-year-old black man who only wanted be identified as "Juror 371," said had he remained on the jury, he would have voted that Clark is innocent.

    "There's not enough evidence," he said. The juror said he was bothered that while forensic evidence showed there were at least two shooters and two guns used to shoot into Williams's limo, the police only charged one suspect: Clark.

    He said he was also disappointed that the police never investigated a tip that Daniel "PT" Harris -- the prosecution's star witness and the only witness to testify that he saw Clark shoot into the limo -- was actually the shooter. Harris's testimony that Clark did it wasn't believable, the juror said.

    It makes me tense just thinking of the stress on jurors. Just the fear of getting it wrong would be overwhelming to me. Then, too, the description of the security measures would make me scared enough being a juror.

    The case is a lot stronger IMO (none / 0) (#11)
    by magster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:17:04 PM EST
    with the complicity theory that maybe this juror hadn't been instructed on yet.  

    I thought that the testimony of the gal who let Clark use the SUV and of Clark destroying the SUV put Clark in the Tahoe, even if the testimony having him pull the trigger was weak.


    thanks, I just posted that instruction (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:28:50 PM EST
    I wonder if the question was the idea of the jurors who thought he was guilty in an effort to convince any jurors leaning towards not guilty because they didn't think the state proved he was the shooter. And if so, whether it was just one or two jurors who had to be convinced or several.

    So far, the jury isn't talking.


    I'm sure you're right (none / 0) (#16)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:19:51 PM EST
    I just hope two more people get convicted if this man didn't shoot either gun.

    With you all the way (none / 0) (#17)
    by raymondtrap on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:58:16 PM EST
    Totally agree with you here. They need to figure this out and make sure justice is served!

    I have a friend (none / 0) (#15)
    by txpolitico67 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:49:49 PM EST
    here in Fort Worth that has been posting updates on this case from its onset.  She was friends with the deceased.  I am going to direct her to TL so she can read what's going on from your vantage point.

    IMO this may not be the thing to do. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:58:47 PM EST
    This is a criminal defense site and, assuming your friend is emotional about the victim and the circumstances surrounding his death, your friend may become emotional about what she reads here.

    Not at all (none / 0) (#19)
    by txpolitico67 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 10:51:01 PM EST
    she's a mature, educated woman.  We cruised the site together earlier.  She sits on a board that bears the name of the deceased.  She is friends with his parents who, have been in the courtroom and update her.  And she agrees with JM...she likes the judge in this case.