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Wayne Williams Trial: 1981 - Prosecutors Use Microscopic Analysis, Williams Takes The Stand, Suggestions For Further Reading

atlanta river killings bridge

Defendant: Wayne B. Williams
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Alvin Binder and Mary Welcome
Chief Prosecutors: Joseph Drolat, Jack Mallard, and Lewis Slaton
Judge: Clarence Cooper
Place: Atlanta, Georgia
Dates of Trial: December 28, 1981-February 27, 1982
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Life imprisonment

SIGNIFICANCE: The trial of the man suspected of being America's worst child-killer was bound to generate immense attention. But did it produce a just verdict?

Beginning in 1979 an unprecedented wave of killings struck Atlanta, Georgia. Over the next two years upwards of 20 young black males were found murdered. In the early hours of May 21, 1981, police staking out the Chattahoochee River, one of the killer's favorite dumping grounds for his victims, spotted a station wagon on a bridge. The driver, Wayne Williams, was questioned but allowed to leave. Two days later, the body of Nathaniel ("Nate") Cater was dragged from the river. Although forensic evidence connected Williams, a 23-year-old black homosexual music promoter, with many of the Atlanta killings, he was charged on only two counts.

Williams' trial began December 28, 1981. Following an adjournment for the holidays, testimony got under way on January 6, 1982. District Attorney Lewis Slaton likened the Atlanta killings to a "jigsaw puzzle with a whole lot of little pieces fitting in." Chief defense counsel Alvin Binder preferred to highlight Williams' solid family background, insisting to the jury: "You don't get a killer from a boy who was raised like this."

Officer Fred Jacobs, part of the surveillance team watching the Chattahoochee River, testified to seeing a station wagon "drive very slowly" across the bridge, moments after hearing a loud splash.

The story was taken up by FBI Special Agent Gregg Gulliland. After being stopped, Williams had given conflicting reasons for being on the bridge, then blurted out, "What's all this about? … I know. This is about those boys, isn't it?"

Challenging the defendant's claim that he had not known either victim, Margaret Carter, an acquaintance of Cater's, stated, "I saw Nate sitting on the bench in the park … with another fellow." She identified Williams as that man.

Weatherman Brinks Trials: 1983 - A Straightforward Case [next] [back] Washington v. Seattle School District - Significance, A Thorny Problem, Resistance To Change, Legal Remedies, The Power Of The State

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about 8 years ago

I served as a consultant on the William's case in 1982. I maintain regular contact with Wayne even today.



William's is a Black man. A Black needed to be caught and was.



The "estalishment" needed an arrest and and arrest they got. The guilty party..No. Did the murders stop with William's arrest..No.



Do I know what I am talking about..Yes.



May you contact me for more case information..Yes.



How? crmnlgyRersearch@aol.com

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over 6 years ago

You really should listen to all of the facts of the case before making any kind of judgement. There is not enough information here to even make a case, much less convict a person of murder.

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about 7 years ago

ithink that Wiilliams definately needs to be in jail for life improsinment for what he did. i beliee that he did it and is guilty as charged.

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over 8 years ago

TW33Zy- you're an idiot. Luckily there some smart people out there. If it was based on what people like you thought...Wayne Williams would have LITERALLY gotten away with murder. That's how clever and manipulative he is.

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over 8 years ago

I think that wayne williams is not guilty of any of the crimes he should not be in prison. FREE WILLIAMS!

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almost 6 years ago

ok i feel like if he didnt do it why did the killing stop once he was locked up. i wasnt there to say what he did or didnt do. all i know is that the killing stopped. you cant play god no matter what type of power you got. people have to live there life and only they know what did when it is time to leave this world.i think they should re-open the case up.i dont like what was going on with anybody touching kids. there are too many people out there that is into that so leave kids out of it.i have been following this case for awhile now and i wish i was on the case so i can see what the police seen and everything that wasnt said.but i do think the ATLANTA POLICE did there job.

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over 7 years ago

Hes a guilty man who should be killed

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over 6 years ago

this guy would be hanged

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almost 6 years ago

Wayne Williams could clearly be accused guilty in this case. Although the evidence is minimal, it is enough to convict him. With that said, I believe that the evidence presented is enough to say that he is guilty.

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almost 6 years ago

Wayne Williams could clearly be accused guilty in this case. Although the evidence is minimal, it is enough to convict him. With that said, I believe that the evidence presented is enough to say that he is guilty.

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about 5 years ago

Not to sound like a know it all but I agree with Jhon Smith there is not enfo forensic evidence to make a sound case. Fibers and dog hair means nothing. It can be traces to a breed or type but not the excat type as for hair.

When I or even you come near or in conatcat with a nother thing or perosn were constantly loseing hair so there for he vary well could be in for life when he has done nothing at all. Becuse the eveidev is subjective it menas little to nothing and in his time period being black ontop of homosexual made it even harder on him.

People used him as an excape goat to try and make teh people feel safe why eles would he not of been give the death pentalty instead of life?