An Alameda County jury came back Thursday to recommend a sentence of death in the case against Darnell Williams Jr., who had already been found guilty of the killings in 2013 of a little girl at a sleepover and a man who was pleading for his life as he tried to run away.
The same jury found Williams guilty one month ago of those murders, along with the attempted murders of three other people and the accidental shooting of his own nephew. But, because the death penalty was a possible sentence in the case, there has been a second phase of the trial involving new evidence in recent weeks.
The jury deliberated for about a day before coming back with its verdict. Judge Jeffrey Horner said Thursday afternoon that Williams would be sentenced Sept. 21. The jury’s verdict is a recommendation the judge could ultimately reconsider.
Williams did not respond to the verdict except by looking up at the courtroom clock, which he has done often throughout the proceedings. When the judge asked him if he wanted to give up his right to be sentenced within 20 court days, he responded with a quiet “yes.” No supporters attended the hearing on his behalf.
The case was the first one to go to trial under Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in which she sought the death penalty. The last person in the county to be sent to death row was David Mills in 2012 after his conviction for triple murder.
O’Malley attended Thursday’s hearing, and said it was the execution of a child, and the near-deaths of two other children, that — in part — made this case so heinous and prompted her to seek the death penalty.
O’Malley described the killings as a “crime spree that’s as heinous as we’ve seen.” She said another factor that led her office to seek the death penalty was that there was “no question” Williams was guilty. The third guiding principle of her office, she said, is to seek the death penalty only rarely.
“We appreciate the jury being as earnest and as thoughtful and as ethical as they were throughout the whole process,” she said. “It was not an easy verdict, not an easy decision for them. But they did their job. You could see how thoughtfully and how carefully they undertook this task, and I appreciate that’s how our system works.”
Some of the relatives of the murder victims — 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine and 22-year-old Anthony Medearis III — have expressed their support for a death sentence, while others have said they would prefer Williams is sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
About seven relatives of both victims were in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Some smiled and nodded as the jury left the room, but most initially left the area without making a statement.
Medearis’ father, Anthony Medearis Jr., said Thursday’s sentence meant the families have finally gotten closure.
“It’s not going to bring my son back, or Alaysha, but they can finally rest,” he said. Medearis, who is now 43 and lives in Hayward, grew up on Camelia Street, not far from where his son was fatally shot.
Medearis’ aunt, Jackie Winters, said it was a big relief to hear the verdict Thursday, though she said she had been hoping for a sentence of life in prison so Williams would “never be able to rest.”
“If that’s what it is, that’s what it is,” she added.
Shaquilla Jackson, cousin of Alaysha, said previously that these past three years have been difficult for her family. She also described how the families of both victims had come together throughout the proceedings to support each other.
“We all became one extended, big family,” she said. “It was instant from the beginning. They felt the same pain as we did, the exact same pain.”
Crewvonnia Jackson, mother of Shaquilla and aunt to Alaysha, said the verdict has been a long time coming: “We’ve been waiting for this for three years.”
They said they are happy Williams is off the street and won’t be able to hurt anyone else, or put any other families through what they have been through. They described Williams as a monster who has never shown remorse for his crimes.
As the trio was leaving the courtroom, they crossed paths with two jurors and one alternate who were also heading home. The family members thanked all three, hugging them and talking briefly about the challenges of the long court process.
One juror described the case as horrific, but said all members of the jury had reached the same decision and been able to work well together to get to that point.
The alternate juror said she appreciated finally being able to speak to the family members she had seen so often in the courtroom. The jurors said they also have sympathy for Williams.
“We cry for him, as well,” one said.
Crewvonnia Jackson, Alaysha’s aunt, told them Williams is in her prayers, and that she hopes he is still able to make amends and perhaps one day help others who are struggling to stay on the right path.
Attorneys for Williams shared brief statements about the case.
“The jury made the call,” said defense attorney Darryl Billups.
His co-counsel, Deborah Levy, said she and Billups plan to file a motion to ask the judge to commute Williams’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I think this verdict is making a horrible tragedy more tragic,” Levy said.
Said prosecutor John Brouhard, in a statement released by the district attorney’s office: “I am extremely gratified with today’s outcome and would like to thank the jury that worked so diligently to reach a just verdict in this matter, as well as the many law enforcement officers who investigated these crimes.”
Sgt. Robert Rosin, the lead investigator in the Carradine killing, said this has been one of the saddest cases he has seen throughout his entire career with the Oakland Police Department.
“The severity of this particular crime sets it apart from the rest,” he said. The case was tragic for the families of both the victims and the defendant, he added. “But, as a whole, for the community, I think justice was served.”
[This story was updated after publication to include additional statements from jurors and the relatives of victims.]
Jury to begin deliberations in murder trial of ‘psychopath’ (06.01.16)
Williams decides not to testify; defense rests (05.26.16)
Convicted murderer says he’ll take the stand (06.25.16)
Convicted killer: ‘I been in the streets since I was 9’ (06.25.16)
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