North Versailles man found guilty of killing girlfriend

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Dorian Williams sat at the defense table, stoic and calm. He sipped water from a paper cup as he listened to the polling of the jury in his homicide case.

Each of the 10 women and two men, when asked, confirmed that they had found the 21-year-old from North Versailles guilty of first-degree murder.

Even as he was led away by sheriff’s deputies — to return April 7 to be formally sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole — Mr. Williams quietly said to his family, “I’ll be all right. Love you, too.”

He was found guilty of killing his girlfriend, Susan Hammond, 24, late on Aug. 26, 2012.

She was shot in the head in the parking lot of their apartment complex, North Versailles Castles, that night and found the next morning.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Sullivan told the jury that Mr. Williams was the last person to see Hammond, that the defendant had a bad temper and that witnesses saw the couple arguing in the parking lot about 11:30 p.m.

“You have everything pointing to Mr. Williams,” Mr. Sullivan said.

During the three-day trial, the prosecution called the defendant’s mother and brother, who placed Mr. Williams at the scene with the victim that night.

His brother, too, testified that Mr. Williams said to him that night, “I got something for her,” which Mr. Sullivan said was the defendant alluding to killing Hammond.

According to testimony, Mr. Williams called a neighbor who lived in the apartment complex seven times after the shooting, asking the man if the police were there or if he had heard any gunshots.

And, Mr. Sullivan continued, the defendant fled and was on the run for several weeks, showing a “consciousness of guilt.”

“He disappeared. It’s not because he’s scared. That’s not the behavior of an innocent man. That’s the behavior of a man who just shot his girlfriend.”

In a statement to police, Mr. Williams said he and Hammond were in the parking lot that night when people started shooting at them, and he fled to avoid being hit.

Defense attorney Kirsha Weyandt argued in her closing that the police had no physical evidence linking Mr. Williams to the crime, and that testimony about her client’s bad temper does not make him guilty of murder.

She also said that Mr. Williams fled not because he killed Hammond, but because he was already wanted on a probation violation and a warrant.

“Everybody in the community already thinks it’s him,” Ms. Weyandt said during her closing. “It’s not good enough that he’s the last man standing. There has to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The prosecution called two witnesses from the Allegheny County Jail, who testified that Mr. Williams told them he killed Hammond.

But Ms. Weyandt dismissed them.

“Who comes out of the woodwork but people at the jail,” she said. “It happens all the time.”

One witness, William Powell, who is serving a 12½-year term in federal prison for heroin distribution, said Mr. Williams spoke with him at length over a period of several months when they were cell mates and on the same pod.

“He had the same knowledge any person would know who had access to those police reports, who had access to discovery,” Ms. Weyandt said.

The jury deliberated about eight hours over two days before reaching its verdict.

Kayleigh Shebs, co-counsel for Mr. Williams from the Office of Conflict Counsel, said the defense respects the jury’s decision.

“This was a really tragic case from every angle you looked at it,” she said.

They plan to appeal.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@ First Published January 9, 2014 4:13 PM


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