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Closing Arguments to Start in Raleigh Trial

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RALEIGH — The John Williams murder trial could soon be in the hands of the jury. Closing arguments are set for today.

Williams, 37, an Augusta, Ga., native, is charged with the murders of two Raleigh women. The body of Patricia Ashe, 32, was found on South Blount Street on Jan. 6, 1996. Deborah Elliott's body was found beaten to death in the Pine State Creamery Building on Glenwood Avenue on Dec. 26, 1996. Elliott was 30.

The prosecution called 141 witnesses and presented 330 exhibits, including DNA evidence, the surviving victims' identification of Williams in court, and his statement to police after his arrest in February 1996. But the defense asked the judge to dismiss the charges, saying there is no physical evidence linking Williams to the crimes. The judge denied the motion.

The defense team rested their case about 4 1/2 hours after beginning their presentation.

The trial has been under way for seven weeks, and because the victims are said to have traded sex for crack, the jurors have heard considerable testimony about the dangerous world of crack addicts.

But prosecutors attempted to convince the jury that no matter their lives, the victims should not have been murdered. "They had people who loved them, they were loved, they were people, they had families. No one should take their life regardless of the life they led."

Williams' fate could be in the hands of the jury this afternoon. If convicted, he could be put to death.

He is also charged with the rape of two women, and the attempted rape of three others, as well as five counts of assault.


Kay Miller, Web Editor

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