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Judge declares mistrial in manslaughter case

From Staff, AP reports

GADSDEN — An Etowah County judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the manslaughter trial of a Decatur man charged in the 2002 shooting death of a Gadsden man.

The defendant, Marcus Antwaine Williams, 21, also faces a first-degree assault charge in the June 4 stabbing of Darrys Torrail Burgess outside Raintree Apartments in Decatur.

Circuit Judge Allen Millican declared the mistrial after learning a juror read about the case in the newspaper and told other jurors, The Gadsden Times reported Thursday.

Williams was charged with murdering Victor Martin on Oct. 5, 2002, but a jury in 2004 found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Williams' lawyers appealed, saying the judge didn't tell jurors to consider self-defense. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction. Because Williams was found guilty of manslaughter, not murder, he can be retried only for the lesser charge.

Williams' lawyers say the two men had been arguing for several days and Williams acted in self-defense when Martin pulled into a parking lot behind him. Williams had filed at least two harassment complaints with the Gadsden police in the week before the shooting.

The prosecution said Williams told police he got out of his car shooting, even though there was no evidence to show Martin was armed at the time he was shot.

Jurors were told not to read or watch media accounts of the trial.

In Decatur, police Lt. Chris Mathews said Burgess was an acquaintance of Williams who lived in the same apartment complex.

The two were in Apartment 402 of the complex at 1321 Towerview St. S.W. when Williams asked Burgess to step outside and talk. He then pulled out the knife and chased Burgess around the apartment building before finally catching him, pinning him to the ground and stabbing him, Mathews said.

He said Williams fled the scene and ran into his own apartment. A neighbor heard him say he was going to get a gun, Mathews said.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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