Prosecutor Says Info ‘Could Have Been Helpful’
JACKSON, Ga. (AP) _ A prosecutor in the 1982 murder trial of Wayne Williams said Tuesday that at least nine police reports relating to suspects and trial witnesses could have helped Williams’ defense.
But Joe Drolet said that, with one exception, the information was not so crucial that prosecutors were obliged to hand it over to Williams’ lawyers.
Drolet, now a defense attorney, testified in Butts County Superior Court in Jackson, 39 miles southeast of Atlanta, where Williams’ appeal is being heard.
Williams was convicted of two murders in a series of killings of young blacks that rocked Atlanta from 1979 to 1981. Police ultimately attributed 22 other killings to him after his conviction. He is serving two life sentences.
Williams’ lawyers contend a wealth of information was improperly withheld from the team that defended him at his 1982 trial. The information included conflicting stories told by a witness and evidence that dog hairs found on some of the victims didn’t come from the type of dog Williams owned.
Prosecutors declined to comment after the hearing, but a defense lawyer said he was elated by the testimony.
″It’s not if we win a new trial; it’s when,″ Bobby Lee Cook said. ″And I predict the state will never try this case again.″
During the hearing, civil-rights attorney William Kunstler questioned Drolet about police reports not given to the lawyers who defended Williams at his trial.
Drolet conceded that prosecutors may have had a legal obligation to share one report concerning prosecution witness Bobby Toland, a Williams acquaintance who testified that Williams hated his own black race and discussed the elimination of black children.
Drolet said numerous other police reports could have helped Williams’ trial lawyers. But he said most did not meet the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard for material favorable to the defense that must be shared with it.