Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO

A Berkeley man found guilty of two murders earlier this month, who could face the death penalty, asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge Monday to dismiss the jury and make his own ruling on sentencing.

Both attorneys for 25-year-old Darnell Williams Jr. strongly advised him not to waive his rights to a jury trial, they said. But Williams had other ideas.

“He would like the proceedings to end,” defense attorney Deborah Levy told Judge Jeffrey Horner on Monday afternoon. He said he would waive his rights and accept the judge’s sentence, said Levy, adding, “The death sentence is fine with him.”

Defense attorney Darryl Billups told the judge he had advised Williams he “didn’t think it was a good idea” to waive the jury trial, which is designed to lead to a sentencing recommendation for the judge. The jury is slated to decide between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.

The jury was not present when the attorneys made the request to Horner on their client’s behalf.

Williams also raised a question, through Levy, about how the decision might affect his appeal prospects. He had asked the judge to provide insights into the possible ramifications, which Horner said he would not do.

Horner said he felt it was “totally inappropriate” for a judge to offer legal advice to a defendant in a criminal proceeding.

Levy then said her client withdrew his request for advice, and was simply ready to be done with the jury.

Prosecutor John Brouhard said he had nothing to say about the request.

After a short recess to “do a little thinking on this and a little research,” Horner returned to the bench and denied Williams’ request.

“I very carefully considered it,” Horner said. “I’m not going to allow a waiver.”

Horner described the jury as the “trier of fact” and said it would be up to jurors to hear the evidence and make their recommendation.

In response to the ruling, Williams dropped his head and let out a loud sigh in a rare showing of emotion. Levy comforted him by rubbing his shoulder.

Monday, Williams’ grandfather and uncle testified about some of the circumstances he faced growing up in Long Beach and Berkeley. Tuesday, the uncle is expected to continue testimony, and Williams’ mother is slated to take the stand, along with a forensic psychologist who specializes in death penalty cases and related issues.

The defense could be done presenting its case by Wednesday.

Williams was found guilty earlier this month of fatally shooting 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a sleepover and, less than two months later, fatally shooting 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III, whom he had known since childhood.

Read complete coverage of the case.

‘Penalty trial’ begins in Berkeley-Oakland murder case (05.17.16)
Guilty verdicts in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case (05.06.16)
Attorneys spar over evidence in death penalty case (05.04.16)
Closing arguments begin in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case (05.03.16)
Sister of man charged with 2 murders takes the stand (04.26.16)
Berkeley killings get spotlight in death penalty case (04.25.16)
Newly found photo could bolster prosecution’s case in death penalty trial (04.15.16)
Ex-girlfriend of accused killer: ‘I feel scared to this day’ (04.11.16)
Judge orders Williams trial to continue after defendant threatens suicide, violence (04.04.16)
Years on, Alaysha Carradine killing is still haunting (03.31.16)
Defense says lack of evidence will cast doubt in double murder trial (03.29.16)
Prosecutor: Berkeley killing sparked ‘rampage of violence’ that left little girl dead (03.29.16)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...