A Possible Last Appeal for Death Row Inmate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

A Possible Last Appeal for Death Row Inmate

Jessie Darryl Williams attorneys don't challenge his murder conviction. But they do argue that the state didn't have evidence to prove Williams kidnapped Karen Ann Pierce from a Gautier lounge in February 1983, therefore constituting his death sentence.

Testimony shows she left with Williams and two other men and voluntarily had sex with them. One of Williams' co-defendants testified that Pierce protested only once and he says that's when Williams dragged Pierce into the woods.

"And that dragging her off into the bushes is what constituted kidnapping. However, after the trial, Evans recanted and he said he had testified as he did because the D.A. threatened him with what amounted to the death sentence," says Williams's attorney, Tom Sumrall.

Attorney General Mike Moore was the Jackson County District Attorney at the time. Moore is out of state and unavailable to comment on Evans' testimony.

The second point Sumrall raises is that he was never given witness statements made at Williams' first trial. Williams lost that argument in the state supreme court, but three dissenting justices said the statements could have helped him.

"The statements were replete with contradictions and inconsistencies that trial counsel could have used to impeach the testimony of some of the witnesses," Sumrall says.

Two juries have sent Williams to death row. After a number of appeals, Sumrall says this latest is most likely Williams' last hope to avoid execution since there is no guarantee the U.S. Supreme Court will even hear his case if the 5th Circuit rules against him.

Sumrall says it could be just a few weeks or even several months before the justices rule.

By Marcia Hill

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