OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Darnell Williams Jr., who was recently convicted of two counts of murder with special circumstances for killings in 2013, should get the death penalty because he has a history of committing violent attacks, a prosecutor told jurors this week.
In his opening statement in the penalty phase of the trial for Williams, a 25-year-old Oakland man, prosecutor John Brouhard said that at
the end of Williams’s trial he will ask jurors “to return a verdict of the death penalty against the defendant.”
Williams was convicted on May 6 of two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting death of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at an apartment in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue in Oakland at about 11:15 p.m. on July 17, 2013, and the unrelated fatal shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Medearis in Berkeley about seven weeks later.
He also was convicted of three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait for the Oakland
shooting, the special circumstance of murdering Medearis during the course of an attempted robbery and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.
In the penalty phase of his trial, which is expected to conclude next week, the same jury will choose between recommending the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In making their decision, jurors can take into account the facts of the crimes, the suffering of the victims and the impacts of the murders on survivors.
Williams’ trial marks the first time in four years that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty against a defendant.
Brouhard said in the guilt phase of Williams’ trial that Williams fired at least 13 shots into the apartment on Wilson Avenue in retaliation
for the fatal shooting of his close friend, 26-year-old reputed gang member Jermaine Davis, in Berkeley about five hours earlier.
Brouhard said Williams wanted to harm anyone who was close to Antiown York, the man he thought had murdered Davis, and went to the apartment because York’s ex-girlfriend, who was the mother of York’s 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, lived there.
The mother wasn’t home when Williams arrived at the apartment but the two children were there along with their 63-year-old grandmother and Alaysha, who was a close friend of the 7-year-old girl and was spending the night there.
The 7-year-old girl, the 4-year-old boy and their grandmother were also struck by gunfire but survived their injuries.
Brouhard said Williams shot Medearis because he thought he was a snitch and also because he wanted to rob him because he had run out of money to buy guns, drugs and jewelry.
In his penalty phase opening statement on Monday, Brouhard said Williams was convicted of assault with a semi-automatic firearm for shooting a childhood friend on Oregon Street in Berkeley on Oct. 9, 2009, after his father ordered him to do so.
The friend, who is now in state prison for a crime he committed years later, testified Tuesday that he’s reluctant to testify about the
Berkeley shooting for fear of being labeled a snitch and getting harmed.
Brouhard said that while Williams was at the Folsom State Prison to serve time for his assault conviction, he and another inmate attacked a third inmate in a prison yard in one incident and he attacked another inmate in the dining area in a second incident.
Brouhard also said that after Williams was arrested in 2013 for the deaths of Alaysha and Medearis, he and his cellmate attacked and robbed another inmate of his commissary snacks and other items. In addition, Brouhard said jail deputies who conducted a surprise
cell search about a week later found an 11-inch-long metal shank in Williams’ cell that could be used to stab a fellow inmate or a guard.
He described the shank as “something terrifying” and “very concerning.”
Brouhard is expected to finish presenting witnesses on Wednesday.
Williams’ lawyers, who won’t give their opening statements until they begin presenting their case, have said that their major witness in the penalty phase will be Gretchen White, an Oakland psychologist who specializes in death penalty and murder cases.
The penalty phase will be in recess on Thursday and Friday and White is expected to testify on Monday.