The Woodward News

Sports

July 23, 2012

Stillwater jury convicts Darrell Williams of three sex crime counts

Woodward, Okla. — By Russell Hixson

CNHI News Service

STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma State athlete Darrell Williams will be sentenced Aug. 24, a Payne County judge ordered after jurors returned to a tense courtroom with guilty verdicts on three of five felony counts.

Williams, who has been free on bail, was placed in sheriff's custody pending formal sentencing. After the verdict was read Williams became quite emotional - weeping and moaning - and his two attorneys attempted to calm him down.

The courtroom, filled with players and OSU coaching staff, erupted into tears and mournful cries after the first guilty verdict was read. District Judge Phillip Corley had to stop proceedings to regain control. One woman in the front row began screaming uncontrollably and was escorted into the hallway by deputies.

OSU men’s basketball head coach Travis Ford, who had testified he believed Williams did not commit the crimes, looked stunned and said nothing as reporters asked for comment.

"I think this case worked through the criminal justice system as it should," said Assistant District Attorney Jill Tontz after Williams was convicted. "These girls have waited 18 months to tell a jury what Darrell Williams did to them and this verdict represents justice for them."

The two victims were not in the gallery during the verdict reading, but had hugged and cried earlier as the jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations.

Jurors recommended a year imprisonment - the minimum - on each of two rape by instrumentation convictions and no jail time on a sexual battery conviction.

Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey she was "very disappointed" and hoping for not guilty on all charges. She said a mixed verdict was unusual.

Williams had been accused of sexually assaulting two women at a Stillwater house party.

The eight-man, four-woman jury began deliberations at 12:20 p.m. Monday after hearing closing arguments from both sides in the case.

The panel notified the judge nearly eight and a half hours later the group had reached a verdict. The verdicts were read at 9 p.m.

Williams has been on trial for two weeks on four counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery. Jurors came back with guilty verdicts on two rape counts and the sexual battery count.

A conviction on rape by instrumentation carries a sentence of no less than one year and no more than 15 years in prison. Sexual battery can carry a sentence of  up to 10 years.

Williams, charged early last year following an investigation into the December 2010 allegations, has continued to receive a scholarship to OSU and practice with the team. Ford, who testified on Williams' behalf last week, said Williams was suspended from playing in games but continues to participate in all other team activities.

The two women Williams was accused of assaulting also testified last week, detailing for jurors when and how they were attacked.

Williams told police in a recorded interview during the investigation that he was drunk at the party but that he remembered what happened and that he had not sexually assaulted anyone. The recording was played for the jury.

Russell Hixson writes for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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