Jury returns mixed verdict

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A jury deliberated for more than two hours before returning a mixed verdict in the case of a young man from Cornersville.

The panel of seven men and five women decided that Bryan Aaron Williams, 19, was not guilty of one count of public indecency and not guilty of sexual battery. On the other four counts of the indictment - one count of public indecency and three counts of solicitation of a minor - Williams was found guilty as charged.

Williams remains free on $45,000 bond, and will be sentenced before Christmas. He was represented by William C. Barnes Jr. of Columbia.

Almost a year has passed since the events occurred as alleged in the indictment. Testimony at the trial last week revealed that Williams allegedly exposed his private parts to two younger girls and inappropriately touched one of them. According to testimony, Williams had explicit phone conversations and exchanges of text messages with three of the girls.

It was the discovery of some of the text messages by the stepfather of one of the victims that pushed Williams' behavior into the public arena and led to the prosecution.

"Would you have been alone in a room with him?" Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard asked one of the recipients of Williams' text messages.

"No sir," she answered.

"You were scared to death of him," Barnard continued.

"Yes sir."

"That little girl was mortified to be in here," Barnard later commented to the jury.

Members of the Williams' family, including his stepfather, testified that he had not committed the offences for which he was accused.

"You've got a man that's progressing," Barnard said during closing arguments. "We want the progression to stop now. All I'm asking for is justice."

The prosecution got almost everything it asked for, but the jury spent some time arriving at the verdict.