Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders

On the Stand

Later in the trial, the state informed jurors that five bloodstains had been found in the station wagon driven by Williams. Prosecutors claimed that the blood droplets matched in type and enzyme to the blood of victims William Barrett and John Porter. There was controversy among analysts as to the exact age of the droplets of blood found in the car. If the droplets occurred within an eight-week period, which one analyst believed, then it could have been likely that the blood came from Barrett and Porter who had died within that period. However, another analyst testified that it was virtually impossible to date the stains and if by any chance they had occurred outside of the eight-week frame then it was highly unlikely that the blood came from either victim.

When it came to the issue of motive, in the absence of any definitive evidence of sexual assault of the victims, the prosecution claimed that Wayne Williams hated black youths. Of course, this does not explain the murder of Nathaniel Cater who was 27-years-old — not really a youth — and several years older than Williams. Various people testified to remarks that Williams allegedly made over the years that criticized the behavior of black people and black youngsters in particular.

The defense called quite a number of witnesses. For example, they put the hydrologist on the stand that determined that it was "highly unlikely" that the body of Nathaniel Cater had been thrown off the Parkway bridge, considering where Cater's body was found. The hydrologist was incensed that the county had pressured his colleague into changing his report to reflect just the opposite.

Also, the defense presented an expert witness who testified that there was no indication that either Cater or Payne had been murdered. One of the two victims had an enlarged heart and could have died of natural causes. Both or either men could have simply drowned. Cater was a known alcoholic and drug taker.

The defense also put on the stand a number of witnesses that either rebutted what prosecution witnesses had said about where Williams was at a particular time or testified that Williams behavior was strictly kosher with the boys who he tried to develop into musicians. Another witness was the police sketch artist who testified that none of the dozens of suspects that she was asked to sketch looked anything like Williams. A college student recruited by Williams for a singing job testified that Williams disliked homosexuals and expected that his client had a high standard of morals.


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