OXFORD – David Williams is free from jail and at home in Olive Branch awaiting a new trial in the 2005 stabbing death of fellow Ole Miss student Demetria Bracey.
Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth granted Williams bail Wednesday, saying the state failed to show him anything new that would bar his release.
His trial is set for Oct. 17 in Oxford.
After bail was set at $100,000, Williams’ parents and girlfriend waited inside the Lafayette County Courthouse for the process to play out.
Four hours later and after 31/2 years in prison, he walked away from the Lafayette County Detention Center wearing blue jeans and a green T-shirt.
“We are very pleased to be able to have him out of jail,” said David Hill of Oxford, lead counsel on Williams’ defense team, which includes Tiffany Kilpatrick.
Hill also led Williams’ appeal for a new trial before the Mississippi Supreme Court.
A 2007 Lafayette County circuit jury convicted Williams, now 28, and Howorth sentenced him to life in prison.
For most of that time, he’s been held in a Meridian medical facility to treat psychiatric problems.
Hill said Wednesday that he’s not sure Williams needs treatment any more, but they’re “willing to do whatever the court desires” before the trial.
In November 2010, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial, saying sufficient trial errors forced a new look at the case.
Legally, that puts Williams back like any other accused person – deemed innocent until proven otherwise. His new bond is the same as when he was first charged with Bracey’s death.
Williams insisted that he and Bracey, who were romantically involved, had a suicide pact that he couldn’t carry out on himself.
Bracey of Jackson was found stabbed in a closet in Williams’ Oxford apartment several days after she died.
Justice George Carlson, writing for the majority, said Williams’ jury should have had a choice to sentence him for assisting a suicide, rather than just for murder.
Howorth said he will preside over the new trial, noting that he’d like an opportunity “to correct mistakes” that occurred in the September 2007 proceedings.
He said he could pass the case along to another judge, “but intellectually, I don’t feel that’s appropriate.”
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal