A judge ruled Wednesday that an Oakland man should be put to death for his convictions for murdering an 8-year-old girl in Oakland and a 22-year-old man in Berkeley in separate incidents seven weeks apart in 2013.
At an emotional day-long sentencing hearing for 25-year-old Darnell Williams, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said a jury’s recommendation on June 2 that Williams receive the death penalty instead of life in prison without parole was appropriate “in light of the evidence and the law.”
Horner also said:
“The overwhelming weight of the evidence and the credibility and believability of the prosecution’s witnesses supports the jury’s verdict.”
Williams showed little emotion during the hearing but family members of the two people he killed, Alaysha Carradine and Anthony Medearis, cried frequently. Medearis’ mother and sister were ejected from Horner’s courtroom after they shouted at Williams and asked him why he killed Medearis.
Prosecutor John Brouhard told jurors in the guilt phase of Williams’ trial that he killed Alaysha the night of July 17, 2013, when he fired at least 13 shots into an apartment in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue in Oakland in retaliation for the fatal shooting of his close friend, 26-year-old Jermaine Davis, in Berkeley about five hours earlier.
He said the shots also injured and nearly killed a 7-year-old girl, a 4-year-old boy and their 63-year-old grandmother.
Brouhard said Williams targeted the apartment because it was the home of the girlfriend of Antiown York, the man he believed had killed Davis.
York was charged with murdering Davis but charges against him were dismissed two years ago because a key prosecution witness was unavailable.
Brouhard said Williams fatally shot Medearis in the back as Medearis was running away from him because he thought Medearis was a snitch and also because he wanted to rob him because he had run out of money to buy guns, drugs and jewelry.
On May 6, Williams was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Alaysha and Medearis, as well as three counts of premeditated attempted murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait for the Oakland shooting, the special circumstance of murdering Medearis during the course of an attempted robbery and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.
Horner said the murders of both Alaysha and Medearis were both “horrific.”
The judge said that when Williams, who wore a bulletproof vest and armed himself with two guns, went to the apartment on Wilson Avenue in Oakland “his intent was to murder the children of Antiown York, who he thought had killed his friend.”
Horner said Alaysha, who wasn’t related to York but was at the apartment because she was the best friend of York’s 7-year-old daughter, died a quick and horrible death and “knew she was dying when she was being taken to the hospital.”
Horner said Williams’ long criminal career began when he was arrested for breaking into homes when he was a juvenile and continued when he was convicted of assault with a semi-automatic firearm for shooting a childhood friend on Oregon Street in Berkeley on Oct. 9, 2009, after his father ordered him to do so.
Horner said that when Williams was in state prison he and another inmate attacked a third inmate in a prison yard in one incident and he attacked another inmate in the dining area in a second incident.
He also said that after Williams was arrested in 2013 for the deaths of Alaysha and Medearis, he and his cellmate attacked and robbed another inmate of his commissary snacks and other items and jail deputies who conducted a surprise cell search about a week later found an 11-inch-long metal shank in Williams’ cell that could be used to stab a fellow inmate or a guard.
Displaying the shank in court, Horner said he’s never seen such a long shank in his 30 years as a judge and said it clearly was “designed to kill.”
Horner said the fact that Williams’ father and mother were bad parents because they were neglectful and frequently were in jail or prison is a mitigating circumstance but he assigns it “relatively little weight” and believes it is “vastly outweighed by the factors in aggravation,” such as the viciousness of his crimes.
Williams’ defense lawyers, Deborah Levy and Darryl Billups, argued during his penalty phase that he “never had a chance” in life because of his bad childhood, but Horner said, “That statement is simply not true” because he had many opportunities to improve himself and had other family members who tried hard to help him, such as his grandfather.
Levy told Horner today that if he sentenced Williams to life in prison without parole there would be no risk of Williams committing future crimes and that way he could be kept in custody until he dies of natural causes.
But Brouhard said that if Williams was sentenced to life in prison instead of given the death penalty there would still be a risk that he might kill fellow inmates or prison guards.
“When this defendant is executed he will no longer be a threat to anyone in any community.”
Medearis’ aunt, Jackie Winters, said Medearis “was so full of life and had me laughing and smiling even if he was sad.” Winters said Medearis’ death “has affected our family” and said Williams “has shown no remorse and is a cold-blooded killer.”
Alaysha’s mother, Chiquita Carradine, who moved out of state after Alaysha was killed, said in a letter read aloud by Brouhard that her daughter “was truly an angel on earth and a radiant personality.” Carradine said Williams is “a menace to society” and asked Horner to sentence him to death.
The state of California hasn’t executed any death row inmates since Clarence Ray Allen was executed on Jan. 17, 2006.
Brouhard said it’s hard to say if Williams will ever be executed and his fate may be determined by two competing death penalty measures that are on the ballot in November.
One measure would eliminate the death penalty but the other would streamline the appeals process for death row inmates in an effort to make it easier for the state to execute them.