Analysis of Criminal Trial of Wayne Williams in Details


Wayne Bertram Williams was born on 27th May 1958 in Atlanta’s Dixie Hills. He was the key suspect in the Atlanta child murder that occurred between 1979 and 1981 (Keppel & Birnes, 2003). Williams grew up in Dixie Hills neighborhood, a place where many of those children who were killed in Atlanta had come from. Williams aspired to be a DJ and he ran an amateur radio station in his parent’s house where he scouted local musicians, especially the young ones. In addition, he was very popular in the area and many people knew him as a person who improvised impressive stories about himself some of which were too hard to believe.

Many people believed that he was gay but no one ever proved this. William was apprehended for the first time in 1976 when he tried to impersonate a police officer. William was identified to be a key suspect in Atlanta child murder on January 1982 and was found guilty of killing two men. After he was convicted, police declared additional 23 out of 29 child murders solved (Bell,Fisher & Shaler, 2008).

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On 5th November 1980, the United States Attorney General by the name Benjamin R. Civiletti directed FBI to participate in the investigation of several children who were missing and murdered in Atlanta (Keppel & Birnes, 2003). The FBI detectives worked with an independent investigation and local law enforcement Task Force which provided additional manpower, guidance as well as technical assistance.

FBI thought that there was a possibility that the killer would throw the next victim into the river in order to cover the evidence since some had already dumped. Police officers were therefore stationed on Cobb Drive Bridge over the Chattahoochee River to monitor any suspicious activity that could have a connection with the murders that had become common in Atlanta. On 22nd May 1981, the police officers made a milestone in the case when they heard a loud splash in the water under the bridge. They also saw a white 1970, Chevrolet station wagon vehicle that took off away from the bridge (Keppel & Birnes, 2003).

An Atlanta police officer’s patrol vehicle and another one that was unmarked and which was carrying FBI detectives started to follow the white car which they managed to stop at approximately half a mile distance from the bridge. The driver was a 23 years old man by the name Wayne Bertram Williams who was a music promoter as well as a freelance photographer (Keppel & Birnes, 2003). The dog hair and fiber that were collected from the vehicle acted as an exhibit and were later used by the police to build a case against William’s case as they were found to match his dog as well as the carpet in his parent’s house.

When William was questioned by the police, he said that he was going to audition a woman by the name Cheryl Johnson who was a singer and who lived in the nearby Cobb County town of Smyrna. Police later established that there was no record of Cheryl Johnson and that there was no appointment between William and her. Two days after, on a nude body of a young man by the name Nathaniel Carter who was 27 years old was found floating on the water a few miles from where the bridge was (Kiely, 2005).

There was a lot of evidence collected by the police officers and the FBI detective’s throughout the investigation. The first evidence was collected when William threw the body of Carter in the river (Kiely, 2005). When the police officers who were stationed upon the bridge heard a loud splash of water, they decided to follow the white station wagon car that drove away from the bridge after the sound was heard. The police managed to collect the fiber as well as dog hair that were matching Williams dog and his parents’ carpet from a car that he was driving. The same hair and fiber were also seen on one of the victims’ body. Police officers also collected crucial evidence when William failed a polygraph test.

They were in a position to establish that William was not telling the truth after polygraph test was performed. Furthermore, police officers also collected substantial evidence when they realized that William lied to them by saying that he was going to see to see Cheryl. The singer that William said he was going to audition was nonexistent as well as her address that he gave to the police.

Furthermore, police officers established that William did not have any appointment with the singer and he was only covering up his actions. In addition, those people who were working at William’s studio confessed to the police that he had scratches on his face and arms which could have resulted from the struggle between William and victims as they were trying to defend themselves (Kiely, 2005).

The evidence that was collected by the detectives and the police was analyzed in order to form a strong case against William and to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty as charged. First, the information that William gave when he was stopped by the police was not real. He said that he was on his way to meet Cheryl to audition her but that was not true as the police later established (Keppel, 2010).

Besides, he gave the non-existing address of Cheryl. This shows that there was something he was hiding. Fiber that was found on one of the victims’ corpse was matching the ones that were found in the car as well as on the carpet in William’s parents’ house. Expert established that the dog hair on the body of the victim was the same as that of William’s dog. The medical examiner’s report after an autopsy showed that the body of the victim had stayed in the water between 36 to 48 hours and this coincided with the time when William was on the bridge. William furthermore failed a polygraph test and this showed that whatever he was saying was not true (Kiely, 2005).

There were experts that were involved in William’s case and who helped to establish that the dog hair which was on one of the victim’s corpse was matching that of his dog. Experts confirmed the dog hair on the body of the victim was the same as that of the dog. Experts also established that the fiber that was on the victim’s body was also the same as the ones in the car that William was driving. This showed that he had a case to answer (Kiely, 2005).

During the trial, William was described by the prosecution as a violent homosexual and a bigot who hated a certain race. He intended to wipe out the future generation of this race by killing black children before they breed (Keppel, 2005). William’s lawyers attempted to argue that their client was not a homosexual as the prosecutor had described him by revealing the testimony of a woman who admitted to have slept with him. However, the prosecution won an important point when judges admitted the testimony of ten other deaths from the list.

There were several case laws that were cited during the trial of Wayne William. The first case that was cited was justice’s earlier interim order that was against the use of force. The second case that was cited was Nelson v. Heyne case which was 1974 Seventh Circuit ruling. The ruling held that juveniles are entitled to a right of treatment according to the constitution Fourteenth Amendment. The justice used a lower court decision to emphasize on the right to treatment (Keppel, 2010). The significance of these case laws was to show the constitution rights of children that were violated.

The most interesting part of the trial was that the judges allowed the prosecutor to link William with ten other murder cases even though there was no evidence that connected him with them. The second interesting part of the trial was that the evidence that was presented in court by the prosecutor was very consistent and it worked very well against William’s case. For instance, the evidence from medical examiner showed that the body of Carter had only stayed in the water for 36 to 48 hours (Keppel, 2010).

This coincided with the time when William was on the bridge. Another interesting part of the trial is that the fiber that was found on victim’s body was found to match the one in William’s parents’ car as well as carpet in their house. The interesting part of this evidence is that there were other bodies which had fibers but which William had no connection with.

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