Murder suspect found not guilty

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A jury found William Davis, charged with the 2003 murder of Clinton Guyton, not guilty.

Prosecutors apparently had problems caused by the loss of photographic and video evidence by the Picayune Police Department.

Davis was found not guilty for the 2003 murder of Guyton Thursday afternoon after two days of court proceedings.

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The trial dealt with the incident that took place between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 20, 2003. That night an individual knocked on the door of Clinton Guyton. When no one answered to the call “who is it,” Guyton had his then six-year old son open the door. When Guyton’s son opened the door, a man leaned into the door and said to Guyton “Let me holler at you,” and then opened fire on Guyton, said Guyton’s girlfriend Lisa Melton during her testimony.

Guyton walked into the kitchen after being shot and fell on the floor. He died from that wound.

An investigation discovered that an altercation had taken place between Guyton and Davis days prior to the shooting. Apparently Guyton’s sister was involved in an altercation with a friend of Davis and when Guyton went to see what happened with his sister, an altercation between Davis and Guyton ensued.

After that altercation, Davis and another man, Brandon McGill, apparently went to Guyton’s home, asking him to come outside to talk. Melton said she called 911 and the two men left. After that visit is when someone came to Guyton’s home and shot him.

The suspect was described to police as wearing a black do-rag, a diamond earring and dressed all in black, Melton said. Neither Melton nor Guyton’s son could describe the gun.

“I didn’t see the gun, I saw fire come from the gun,” Melton said.

Two line ups were shown to Melton and Clinton Guyton Jr., Guyton’s son. The first contained about 84 pictures, none that Melton or Guyton Jr. recognized. The second set had only six photos, both Guyton Jr. and Melton picked Davis out of the photos. Picayune Police Investigator Holly Krantz said Davis was not in the first set of pictures, but was in the second set.

“When I saw that face, I remembered it. I will never forget that face,” Melton said.

Defense attorneys argued that Melton was aware that Davis would be in the second lineup, however. Krantz said when she showed Melton and Guyton Jr. the second lineup she never indicated which picture was Davis.

Pictures and video of the crime scene was taken the night of the murder, but later lost by the Picayune Police Department, Krantz said. Neither Chief Jim Luke nor Deputy Chief David Ervin were unavailable Friday morning for comment on the missing evidence.

Information pertaining to the get-away vehicle, a green car with a white top, was collected by the investigators, which lead to them formulating William Davis as a suspect.

Defense attorney Tommy Schwartz asked why other suspects had not been formed in the case when witnesses claiming to see the suspect leave the scene pointed out other suspects in the lineup. Krantz said that those witnesses indicated that the people picked out in the lineup only looked like the suspect, and that they were not the man they saw.

Clothes, shoes and the car in question were collected in the investigation. The shoes were sent to the crime lab for analysis of what was believed to be blood, but was not. The clothes were never examined by the lab and a search of the car turned up nothing. Krantz pointed out that all of those items were not collected until a day after the incident. However investigators did find a black do-rag at Davis’ home.

The only other investigation conducted by the department after forming Davis as a suspect was into Davis’ alibi. An investigation into more suspects was not conducted, the defense argued.

Davis’ alibi indicated he was out of town at an outlet mall, at his father’s house in Biloxi and at his cousin’s house near Kiln night of the murder. Davis’ step-mother, Sharana, testified that he was at their home the day of the incident, at about 6:30 or 7 p.m. Two other witnesses to that fact were unable to testify that day, she said. Davis’ father is in a retirement home and the cousin who apparently was there was nowhere to be found. Sharana said she sent her husband to the bank to give Davis $50 for his birthday, but did not have the receipt for the transaction. Nor did she try to call police to share her story after Davis was charged with the murder.

When Davis took the stand he said that the day of the murder he hung out with friends until 3 p.m., went to get his hair done, dropped his cousin and her brother off at a basketball game and listened to the radio at his brother’s house. He said his brother was not home at the time. Then just before dark he headed to his father’s house in Biloxi after stopping at the Nike store at the outlet mall. After his dad gave him the $50 dollars for his birthday, he stayed at their house for about 15 to 30 minutes before heading back to Picayune. On the way back he said he stopped at a cousin’s house, Catessa Hart, located between Kiln and Picayune. Davis said he met a friend of his cousin’s and took her to Slidell, La., and returned to Hart’s house at about midnight. Hart testified to Davis arriving at her house the night of the murder, but could not cite a time.

District Attorney Hal Kitrell asked Hart why two days prior to the trial she told him that Davis had arrived at her house in the morning of Dec. 21, as opposed to her testimony that Davis had arrived the night of Dec. 20. She replied that she was trying to figure out that day’s events in her head.

After less than two hours of deliberation the jury found Davis not guilty. He was released to his mother yesterday.