Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Atlanta Child Murders

Going Down!

Williams was put on the stand to defend himself against the charges and some of the eyewitness accounts. Also, he wanted to point out to the jury that he couldn't have quickly stopped the car on the bridge, opened up the back of the car and hoisted Cater, who was much larger and heavier than Williams, over the shoulder-high guard railings on the side of the bridge.

The goal of William's testimony was to demonstrate to the jury that he did not have the temperament to commit the murders. However, Jack Mallard repeatedly succeeded in making Williams visibly angry and provoking Williams into verbally insulting the government agents on the case. His show of temper had a big negative impact on the jury.

Williams' defense team was unable to undo the damage that had been done, both by the state's case and the poor preparation of their own case. The prosecution had provided the jury with a mountain of evidence compared to what the defense team had. Even though the quality of the evidence presented by the prosecution was doubtful, the sheer quantity of it seemed to overwhelm the jurors. Furthermore, jurors never heard most of the exculpatory evidence from the Brady files that could have changed the outcome of the trial. Prosecutors withheld the files for as long as they legally could, which hardly allowed any time for the defense to prepare a strong case.

Wayne Williams
Wayne Williams

In January of 1982, Wayne Bertram Williams was found guilty for the murder of Jimmy Ray Payne and Nathaniel Cater. He is currently serving two life sentences. Following Williams' sentencing, the Atlanta police announced that twenty-two of the twenty-nine murders were solved with the presumption that Wayne Williams was responsible.

But that was not the end of the case by any means.