Against the advice of his two attorneys, convicted double-murderer Darnell Williams will testify in the penalty phase of his trial, his attorneys said Wednesday.
Testimony in Williams' penalty phase was wrapping up Wednesday and the judge in his case was ready to adjourn the trial for closing arguments when his lawyers suddenly announced that Williams, a 25-year-old Oakland man, wants to testify.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner then sent jurors home for the day and asked them to return on Thursday morning, when Williams will take the witness stand.
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 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.
At the end of the penalty phase of his trial, 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 Williams' crimes, the suffering of the victims, the impacts the murders had on their survivors and Williams' difficult childhood.
At a brief hearing outside the presence of jurors Wednesday, Deborah Levy, Williams' lead attorney, told Horner, "Against our advice and request,
Mr. Williams has decided that he wants to testify."
Darryl Billups, Williams' other attorney, said he wanted to make it clear on the record that Williams made the decision to testify on his own and point out that prosecutor John Brouhard will be able to cross-examine
Williams about his crimes in addition to his childhood and background, which generally have been the subjects of the penalty phase of his trial.
Brouhard told jurors in the guilt phase of the trial that Williams fired at least 13 shots into the apartment on Wilson Avenue in retaliation for the fatal shooting of a close friend in Berkeley about five hours earlier.
He said the shots fired by Williams killed Alaysha and injured a 7-year-old girl, a 4-year-old boy and their 63-year-old grandmother.
Brouhard said Williams fatally shot Medearis on Sept. 8, 2013, 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.
Brouhard told jurors at the beginning of Williams' penalty phase last week that he should get the death penalty because he has a history of committing violent acts.
But Levy said they should spare his life because he had a
difficult childhood since his parents were frequently in jail or prison.