After four days of testimony and lawyers' arguments, the child
molestation case against the Rev. Wilmer D. Williams will remain
without a verdict through the Memorial Day weekend, Muscogee
Superior Court Judge Robert Johnston decided Friday.
The jury of 10 men and two women deliberated two hours before
Johnston sent them home shortly after 6 p.m., ordering them to
resume their decision-making process at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
For almost three hours Friday morning, the jury listened to at
times fiery arguments from the prosecution and defense
Assistant District Attorney Stacey Jackson urged a verdict
convicting the Tabernacle of Praise AOH Church bishop-elect of
aggravated child molestation, sexual battery and two counts of child
molestation involving teen-age boys who were members of Williams'
Defense attorney Michael Garner was just as insistent that
Williams should be acquitted of all charges, arguing that the
state's case had brought "a wonderful man and his family to the
brink of destruction."
"He didn't do this, but they're going to destroy him and his wife
just to win a case," Garner told the jury, pointing to the table
where Jackson and Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bagley awaited
their opportunity to argue their points. "I'm amazed that they have
brought this trash up here."
Garner said Williams' witnesses had not only presented reasonable
doubt about the state's case, they had exonerated the 64-year-old
father of five girls and a boy.
"The evidence says the man is innocent," he said.
Jackson said the state's witnesses proved beyond a reasonable
doubt that the minister had molested one teen-ager from age 15 until
he finally told his parents at age 17, including touching the teen's
genitalia and having the boy commit oral sodomy. The incidents
happened in the minister's homes and in motels during out-of-state
trips in which Williams and the youth shared a motel room, he
The teen-ager's 16-year-old brother also was groped on the
buttocks by the minister in the pastor's office moments before a
church service began April 24, 2001, the prosecutor said.
"They're not making it up because it happened," Jackson argued,
adding that to believe the defense, jurors would have to believe the
teen-agers' parents convinced their sons to lie about sexual
activities that subject them to ridicule and shame. "What parent
would put their children through something like this?"
"They're circling the wagons," Jackson said of the parishioners
who testified for the defense, including those who said no groping
occurred during the embrace they witnessed between the younger teen
and Williams in the pastor's office.
Jackson said those witnesses had every opportunity to come
forward during the year since Williams was arrested, but their
stories were heard only when the defense began presenting its case