High court to re-examine Williams conviction

JACKSON – David Williams’ conviction in the 2005 stabbing death of Ole Miss coed Demetria Bracey will get a new look by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Williams, then of Olive Branch, was Bracey’s boyfriend when they were students together in Oxford. Her body was found in the apartment in November 2005.
In September 2007, a circuit court jury in Lafayette County convicted him of her murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
Thursday, the state’s highest court voted a strong 6-3 to rehear the case.
David Hill of Oxford, Williams’ appeal attorney, said he was not surprised.
“I was expecting to win this before the Mississippi Court of Appeals,” Hill said, “but I’m not surprised by this news because the Court of Appeals decision was just bad law.”
In the efforts to get Williams’ conviction overturned, Hill has focused on two key issues:
– That the trial court erred when it refused Williams’ request for the jury to consider that his involvement in Bracey’s death could have been an assisted suicide.
– That Judge Andrew Howorth allowed Bracey’s priest to avoid testifying about conversations with her, even though he provided Oxford police with a lengthy written statement about them.
Williams also claimed ineffective trial counsel. Hill replaced that attorney for the appeals.
Bracey, of Jackson, died after a kitchen knife penetrated her chest and punctured her heart’s right ventricle.
He claimed she had killed herself in a mutual suicide pact, but he hadn’t been able to kill himself.
In December 2009, the appeals court denied the Williams appeal 6-3, with two of the dissenting votes from justices who heard Hill’s arguments in a special three-judge hearing.
Hill said the appeals court dissent actually was correct and “accurately applies the legal principals of the facts of this case.”
Hill said he planned to call Williams’ parents immediately, then make arrangements to speak with his client today via telephone at a Meridian prison facility, where he’s being held.
Williams is in Meridian because the facility has a medical unit, Hill said, to “help deal with his own medical issues.”
Before and during his trial, Williams contended that he had serious problems with drugs and alcohol. He claimed that on the night of her death, he and Bracey were drinking heavily and taking Klonopin, used medically to combat anxiety.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal