I saw the problem. It was all I could think about as I prepared for the courthouse on Friday.
It’s been 564 nights straight in which Darrell Williams has had to go to bed as an “alleged rapist.” It’s been 1,344 hours of waiting on justice for two women who claim Williams’ guilt and attack on them.
Almost two years.
Friday I rolled out of bed after finally giving up my weak attempt at sleep. My mind had been racing all night. I was too uneasy about what the day would likely hold.
Back on July 27th, Williams was found guilty of some of the charges. Three of the five brought against him, to be exact. Two of them were what the court states as Rape by Instrumentation, and one was Sexual Battery.
Friday was his sentencing.
I saw issues. They were issues that presented themselves without me having to hardly even look. But mostly, I had issues with my lack of sleep.
The defense filed a Motion to Retrial, and a continuance was granted. Long story short, sentencing was moved back a month as the defense tries to get Williams retried. It is now set for September 14, the day before Williams’ twenty-third birthday.
Before I go much further, I want to simply state that I find this case disturbing. The picture that the two accusers painted in their testimonies are something I will never forget reading when I got my copy of the court documents. If it is all true, then I would expect the court to throw everything at Williams. Even the kitchen sink. The details are terrifying. Unspeakable.
If the details aren’t true, and I say “if” because of the possibility of a retrial, then Williams will likely still have to live his life with stigma attached to his name. It’s unfortunate, but in today’s world that’s just how it is as a man. We have the responsibility of keeping our name clear, and when situations as serious as rape are attached to that name in any way, it doesn’t go away.
My issue isn’t with Williams though. It’s not with the two accusers either. I wasn’t in the courtroom for testimonies and haven’t read through all of the hundreds of pages of court records from the case. I followed every update, quote, and tweet, but the truth is I wasn’t there. I don’t know if Williams is guilty or innocent and I’m not going to sit here and tell you I do.
No. My issue isn’t with Williams or the two women.
My issue is with Oklahoma. My issue is wondering why in the hell this is taking so long.
Why is it being drawn out? Williams’ trial was scheduled a year after the charges were filed. Why? Why are you, the State of Oklahoma, holding back justice for one of the two parties involved in this ongoing hell, whichever one it may be?
My issue is with you, Oklahoma. And don’t worry, I have plenty more questions.
When the women said that their attacker was a member of the basketball team, why did you pull out a team photo instead of individuals? Or request that the team come in for a lineup? That year, there were three tall, African-American males that easily could’ve resembled each other. Couldn’t that have gotten confusing for the victims?
My issue is with evidence. Why did you not find more, Oklahoma? You went to trial with testimonies and a whole lot of nothing else. My job as a citizen and a member of a jury is to make a judgment on my peer, and your job is to prove it to me and eliminate even the smallest doubt in my mind of Williams’ innocence. It’s how our forefathers set up our judicial system.
Due process. Innocent until proven guilty. Prove his guilt to me; don’t just have your witnesses say he’s guilty. Show me.
My mind still has doubts, so I don’t know if you did your job well enough on this one, Oklahoma. I won’t speak for the jurors, but since their verdict came down in the middle on a case that should’ve been completely guilty or completely innocent, I feel like those twelve people may have had some doubts too.
I have an issue with the jury as well. If they believed the prosecution had proven to them that Williams was a rapist, why would they recommend the minimum sentence?
Jurors, you heard the testimonies from those women. Imagine those women being your mother, your sister, your daughter. And you recommend the minimum sentence? You didn't do your job. You found Williams half-guilty. Instead of finding him completely innocent or completely guilty, you found him half-guilty. Half-guilty because of the State's lack of evidence. So what that tells me is you think he half did it.
Does that make sense, Oklahoma? Jury? Think about it. Really, really think about it.
How does this happen, Oklahoma? Better yet, if you can’t find evidence, how does this case get to trial? How do you even tolerate this in your court, Your Honor? Or was there more evidence?
Rumor has it Williams passed two voluntary lie-detector tests, what’s the story on that? Were the girls given the same lie-detector tests? Were they even offered it? If I am accusing someone of something so serious and fighting for the truth, I would take it in a heartbeat. Was it even offered to them?
My questions go on and on, and I don’t stop with Oklahoma. Ever since the verdict came down, numerous people have played the victim. Someone told me on Twitter that they were at the party and it didn’t happen. Someone else told me that they talked to the victims right after it happened, and that the attack had happened.
My question for you, Oklahomans, is where were you during the trial?
Did it not occur to you that a fellow human has come under-fire? That one of them could be serving hard time behind bars for a very long time? That one of them could be labeled as a liar for the rest of their life?
The jurors offered their service, but you didn’t. Are you lying about being there, trying to identify with the victim and pitifully make yourself relevant? Or did you simply lack the spine to go down and tell the truth for fear of coming under fire yourself? Anyone? No? Alright.
My issue isn’t against Darrell Williams right now. My issue isn’t against the victims right now. My issue is with Oklahoma and its citizens.
My issue is wondering if there are two girls who have lost friends and may never trust a man again simply because they are fighting for the truth. Meanwhile, suits and ties argue over nothing at the courthouse for two years while the women miss work, school, and do their best to move on.
My issue is trying to fall asleep at night knowing that there could be an innocent man behind bars. There could be a man being robbed of his dreams of playing basketball and getting his family off of the streets of Chicago, and that dream could be being robbed right in front of our eyes as our lawyers and state officials argue and “buy time”.
My issue is with sleep.
Please give us sleep sooner rather than later, Oklahoma, and please do your job.