News

UPDATE: Jury begins deliberations in trial of man accused in 2007 killing

A Bibb County jury is deliberating the fate of a 48-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing a woman at the Good Shepherd House in 2007.

Richard Mullins is charged with murder in the death of 19-year-old Eliza Williams on Sept. 10, 2007, at the shelter located at the corner of Elm and Second streets.

Jurors started deliberations at about 3 p.m.

After an hour of deliberating, jurors sent out a note to the judge asking to view photographs of the blood-stained boxers Mullins was wearing when he was arrested on Sept. 14, 2007. 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.

The attorneys opened the bags containing both pairs of boxers and an envelope with cuttings from the undergarments before sending them in for jurors' review at 4:10 p.m.

Jurors also sent out a note requesting police reports. The judge replied that jurors already were in possession of all the evidence in the case.

This morning Kaajal Patel, a GBI forensic DNA analyst, testified that she found a sample of Williams’ blood on the boxers Mullins was wearing when he was arrested.

Patel said she also analyzed samples taken from a sexual assault kit performed on Williams' body, which tested positive for Mullins' DNA.

When cross-examined by Mullins' attorney, Mark Beberman, Patel said there's no way to determine how or when Williams' blood got on Mullins' clothing.

Cynthia Wood, a GBI forensic biologist, said there's no way to date when the sex act occurred that placed his sperm in her body.

"We have no way of saying exactly what time," Wood said.

But she said the act likely occurred within a three-day window prior to the sample being taken from Williams.

In closing arguments, Beberman asked the jurors to consider other possible explanations for the evidence presented against Mullins.

“All the DNA proves is that Mr. Mullins had sexual contact with Ms. Williams,” he said.

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.

“Fear drives people to do things like that,” he said.

He recounted witnesses’ testimony, pointing 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 pointed out that police didn’t find any evidence linking Mullins to the crime scene — no fingerprints, no blood, no fibers, no hair.

“You would think with this violent struggle inside there would be something,” he said.

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 on 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 on 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.

  Comments