A Bibb County jury has found a 48-year-old man guilty of malice murder in the death of a 19-year-old woman found dead at the Good Shepherd House in 2007.
Richard Mullins was sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole after jurors returned the verdict at 10:15 a.m.
Mullins fatally stabbed Eliza “Alize” Williams at the shelter located at the corner of Elm and Second streets on Sept. 10, 2007.
Mullins addressed the judge prior to sentencing and proclaimed his innocence.
“I did not do that crime,” he said. “I didn’t do it.
“I don’t know how they found me guilty.”
Flora Mackey, Williams’ aunt, entered the courtroom just prior to Mullins’ sentencing after being absent during the trial.
After the sentencing, she said she’s been seeing her niece in her dreams and could not sit through the testimony describing her death.
“I’ve been replaying it in my head and I can hear her saying ‘Auntie, auntie, help me,” Mackey said tearfully. “I can’t get it out of my head.”
She said she believes the verdict will bring her closure as she raises Williams’ two children, 1-year-old Elisha and 3-year-old Elicia.
“I feel like I can finally rest,” she said.
Eliza Williams was a good person and she was trying to turn her life around at the time of her death, Mackey said.
“She was just dealt a bad hand,” she said.
Jurors began their deliberations at 3 p.m. Thursday and continued until they were dismissed for the night at 6:30 p.m. Deliberations continued today beginning at 9 a.m.
In closing arguments presented Thursday afternoon, defense attorney Mark Beberman asked the jurors to consider other possible explanations for the evidence presented against Mullins during the two-day trial.
He recounted GBI forensic experts’ testimony that Mullins’ DNA was found in a sexual assault kit performed on Williams’ body and that Williams’ blood was found on the boxers Mullins wore when he was arrested.
“All the DNA proves is that Mr. Mullins had sexual contact with Ms. Williams,” Beberman said.
After an hour of deliberating Thursday, jurors sent out a note to the judge asking to view photographs of Mullins’ bloody boxers. The judge replied that no photographs were entered into evidence, but that the court could provide gloves if the jurors wanted to examine the boxers.
Jurors sent out another note requesting the gloves.
Beberman said it’s understandable that a man talking with police would be afraid to admit he’d had sex with a prostitute who later turned up dead.
Summarizing other witnesses’ testimony, Beberman pointed out that no one implicated Mullins in Williams’ death. No one saw him kill her and no one saw him at the shelter at the time of her death.
“No weapon was ever recovered,” he said.
Beberman reminded jurors that police didn’t find any evidence linking Mullins to the crime scene — no fingerprints, no blood, no fibers, no hair.
When interviewed by police, officers didn’t notice any visible wounds on Mullins, Beberman said.
“Wouldn’t you expect some kind of marks would be on that person” who struggled with Williams, he said.
Prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor reminded jurors of testimony that Mullins was seen at the Good Shepherd House earlier Sept. 10, 2007, and his statements to police that he’d never been to the shelter.
She said Mullins told police he didn’t know Williams and had never had sex with her. But his DNA was found in the sexual assault kit and Williams’ blood was found on Mullins’ undergarments, Malcor said.
Malcor countered Beberman’s argument that police didn’t find any of Mullins’ fingerprints at the shelter by saying officers didn’t find any of Williams’ fingerprints either.
“But she was there,” she said.
Malcor reminded jurors of the testimony of Laury Smith, a witness who gave police Mullins’ name to help them identify him following Williams’ killing.
Mullins stabbed Smith with a screwdriver two days following Williams’ killing, Malcor said.
Smith told police Mullins admitted to her that he stabbed Williams, she said.
Mullins is serving a 20-year sentence at Smith State Prison in Glennville after pleading guilty Jan. 29, 2008, to stabbing Smith.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.