OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A 25-year-old Oakland man could face the death sentence after he was convicted Friday of two counts of first degree murder including the slaying of an 8-year-old during a sleepover at her friend's house.
Deliberating for nearly two days, jurors found Darnell Williams guilty of the murders of little Alaysha Carradine in Oakland on July 17, 2013 and 22-year-old Anthony Medearis in Berkeley about seven weeks later.
Emotions erupted in the Oakland courtroom filled with family and friends of the young girl.
In addition to the two murder counts, Williams was charged with three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait for the Oakland shooting, the special circumstance of allegedly murdering Medearis during the course of an attempted robbery and the special circumstance of allegedly committing multiple murders.
The same jury will now decide between recommending the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Williams looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Relatives of his two victims, Alaysha Carradine and Anthony Medearis III, shed tears and hugged each other but declined to say much after the verdicts were announced against Williams, a 25-year-old Oakland man, in the packed courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner, which was guarded by eight bailiffs.
Shaquilla Jackson, Alaysha's cousin, told reporters, "We've waited three years for this and it's finally over."
Jackie Winters, Medearis' aunt, who sat next to his mother when the verdicts were read, said, "We're happy, we got closure" but said she didn't want to comment further at this time because Williams' case actually isn't finished yet.
That's because Williams now faces a separate penalty phase at which jurors will choose between recommending the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. It will begin on May 16.
Alaysha's mother, Chiquita Carradine, moved out of the state after Alaysha was killed and wasn't present for the verdict against Williams, which took more than 10 minutes for the court clerk to read.
Carradine attended opening statements in Williams' trial on March 28 and will return for the penalty phase because she and other family members of Alaysha and Medearis will testify about the impact their deaths have had on them.
The attorneys in the case didn't comment on the verdict because Horner issued an order barring them from talking to the news media.
In her closing argument, defense lawyer Deborah Levy asked jurors to "use your brains, look objectively at the evidence. It's just not enough beyond a reasonable doubt to prove that Mr. Williams was responsible."
But prosecutor John Brouhard successfully convinced jurors that Carradine died in a hail of bullets fired by Williams an apartment on Wilson Street in Oakland in retaliation for the fatal shooting of his close friend, 26-year-old reputed gang member Jermaine Davis.
Davis was killed in Berkeley about five hours earlier.
Brouhard told jurors that Williams wanted to harm anyone who was close to Antiown York, the man he thought had murdered Davis, and went to the apartment because York's ex-girlfriend, who was the mother of York's 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, lived there.
The mother wasn't home when Williams arrived at the apartment but the two children were there along with their 63-year-old grandmother and Alaysha, who was a close friend of the 7-year-old girl and was spending the night.
The 7-year-old girl, the 4-year-old boy and their grandmother were also struck by gunfire and Brouhard said the shooting "was close to a quadruple murder" because the shots that hit them narrowly missed vulnerable spots on their bodies.
Brouhard alleges that Williams shot Medearis 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 said Williams killed Medearis after a dispute at a dice game, chasing Medearis down and shooting him in the back as he pleaded for his life.
The guns that were used in the two shootings never were found.
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