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Jury deliberating fate of accused Good Sherpherd House killer

A jury is deliberating the fate of a 48-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing a 19-year-old woman at the Good Shepherd House in 2007.

Richard Mullins, 48, is accused of murder in the death of Eliza “Alize” Williams who died at the shelter located at the corner of Elm and Second streets on Sept. 10, 2007.

Jurors began their deliberations at 3 p.m. and continued until 6:30 p.m. when jurors were dismissed for the night. Deliberations will continue this morning.

Kaajal Patel, a GBI forensic DNA analyst, testified Thursday morning that she found a sample of Williams’ blood on the boxers Mullins was wearing when he was arrested Sept. 14, 2007.

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 it’s not possible 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.

After an hour of deliberating, jurors sent out a note to the judge asking to view photographs of Mullins’ 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.

In closing arguments presented Thursday afternoon, Beberman asked the jurors to consider other possible explanations for the evidence presented against Mullins during the two day trial.

“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 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.

Malcor said being stabbed changed Smith’s life.

Before the stabbing, Smith used drugs, lived on the streets and worked as a prostitute.

“She got clean. She got an education. She is out there now living her life,” Malcor said. “Eliza Williams never got that chance.”

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.

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