“IN THE HALLS OF JUSTICE, JUSTICE WAS IN THE HALLS”! - Williams’ Family and Friends response to the Houston Chronicle article on 12/19/18! This will be our LAST and ONLY Statement!
Fair and candid reporting of my brother Arthur Williams 1982 Capital Murder case in the death of Officer Daryl Shirley has not been presented in the media. Family and friends of Arthur have never been asked to speak on his behalf or share their views on the handling of his case. Arthur requested his supporters not to attend his Sentencing (punishment) Hearing. Since, no one was present to provide a contrasting opinion to those reflected in the Houston Chronicle News article of 12/19/2018 written by you, Keri Blakinger. On behalf of family, friends and supporters of Arthur Williams this is an attempt to do so.
Over more than 30 years of legal machinations Arthur’s supporters have withheld commenting in deference to the legal process and in respect of Officer Shirley’s family. Now that Arthur’s death penalty and 36 year stay on death row has been traded for a sentence of life plus sixty years in prison, I feel no further impediments to sharing my view.
Since the 1982 incident media coverage has failed to include pertinent details. My brother is a compassionate person, not a cold-blooded killer. There has been no acknowledgement that Arthur has consistently expressed remorse. He has stated “I regret that I killed someone. Not so much the fact that he was a police officer, just the fact that he was a human being. He was married, he had children. I feel badly about that.”
Shortly before this tragedy happened Arthur had been robbed by a gunman (Donald Chaline) posing as a police officer. This fact was addressed during the trial. That experience evoked a defensive response when he was confronted by the gun wielding and out of uniform Officer Shirley. The confrontation should not have taken place. Sadly, it did.
Several other factors have not been fairly considered. Officer Shirley did not follow the procedures of his own department in confronting Arthur. He was not wearing a uniform. He did not visibly display a badge. An Arrest Warrant was not presented. There was no visible indication that he was a police officer. No uniformed officer or any other police backup was present to assist and corroborate the events leading up to the officer being shot. These are verifiable facts. It cannot be confirmed that Officer Shirley identified himself as a policeman. The audio tape of a witness call to 911 could have shed light on the question, but it was destroyed by Houston police before the trial began.
Thirty-six years have passed since Arthur was arrested. The inexplicably slow pace of his case was largely due to Arthur’s defense against a host of improprieties. His court assigned defense attorney (whom was inexperience) not only provided a decidedly ineffective counsel, but also faced a seasoned prosecution team that had a great deal of experience. . In fact, his attorney himself acknowledged at least “twenty-nine instances” where his legal representation proved to be detrimental to Arthur’s defense. That admission fits the court’s own definition of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, yet the same court found that not one of the critical assertions had “merit.”
Prosecutors presented questionable motives while fully exercising their pre-emptory strikes to ensure Arthur was tried before all white jury. A guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion.
Appeals court decisions throughout the years were made without considerations of potentially exculpatory evidence. Court documents note some critical evidence sought by the defense was “destroyed” or had gone “missing.” Greater weight was placed on vacillating prosecution witness testimony.
Also, money is no small factor in legal outcomes. One lawyer who represented Arthur through the majority of his appeals appeared to be a committed, empathetic, and professional, until his fees were questioned. When this lawyer learned that he would be replaced he wrote to tell
Arthur: “Despite the enmity that has developed between us, I consider it an honor and a privilege to have represented you. We both know that you did not receive a fair trial. I believe that some court, someday, will recognize this and grant a new trial. No one will be happier than me when that occurs. However, should the courts deny relief, in those final moments as you are being strapped to the gurney, you may regret your decision to change counsel. I hope that you are able to find a lawyer who is as smart as you are.”
The final legal consideration in Texas vs Arthur Lee Williams II was an order to either commute his sentence to Life in Prison (with the possibility of parole) or conduct a new trial to determine punishment. A new trial could have re-imposed the Death Sentence or made Arthur immediately eligible for parole. Arthur, for various reasons, was persuaded and decided to forego a trial and accept an alternative sentence with harsh conditions, life plus a consecutive 60 years.
Arthur’s supporters understand the Shirley family’s feelings that the Criminal Justice System failed their family. It has failed, Arthur and our family also.