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Thursday, October 8, 2009

“Guilty – All Seven Counts!!”

Exclusive Interviews With Glenn Hess and Larry Basford

By Sid Riley

Glenn Hess (State Attorney for 14th Circuit):

State Prosecutor Glenn Hess is elated over performance of Prosecution team in Marianna Quad-murder trial.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of the team headed by Prosecutor Larry Basford in successfully convicting Wesley Williams for the quad-murders in Marianna”, were the comments of State Attorney Glenn Hess in our recent telephone interview. “The support staff which filled the needs of the prosecutors by providing research, materials, and other needs as they arose throughout the process, as well as outstanding courtroom performances demonstrated how the ‘team approach’ can lead to success.”

When asked about whether or not a death penalty would be sought in the conviction, Hess stated that it now appears sentencing before Judge Wright will occur in November. “We are currently in the process of deciding whether or not we will seek the death penalty,” he continued. “This case certainly qualifies for the death penalty, but there are several considerations which might impact our final decision. We want to first talk to the family of the victims about this issue, and if Williams decides to disclose who else was involved in the incident it might influence our decision. We still feel he did not act alone.”

Hess then discussed the difficulty of accomplishing an execution in the liberal climate which impacts the State and Federal Supreme Courts. “The last time an execution was realized from a death penalty generated within the 14th Circuit was in the 1970’s. Too often the case goes through appeal after appeal, with the criminal finally dying in prison.”

When asked if there was any particular part of the evidence and testimony which he felt significantly impacted the jury and led to their decision, Hess responded, “Personally, I feel the proof of his presence in Marianna around the time of the murders, and the multiple telephone calls between Williams and Danielle Baker just before the killings was very incriminating. Also, a long string of circumstantial evidence which all points to one conclusion is often as strong as direct evidence.”

Larry Basford (Chief Prosecutor in Williams Trial):

“I agree with Mr. Hess, the outcome of this trial was the result of a great team effort between the State Attorney’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the Marianna Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”

“This conviction was based on a string of solid circumstantial evidence which all pointed to the fact that Mr. Williams was guilty,” stated Chief Prosecutor Larry Basford with a happy and satisfied tone in his voice. “I am thankful that the jury understood and appreciated the significance of the scientific information we presented to them.”

When one looks at the evidence which was gathered, analyzed, and pieced together to recreate the scene of the terrible murders of Danielle Baker and her three innocent children, and to place Wesley Williams at that scene, it resembles a plot from CSI Miami, the popular TV series. It demonstrates how modern investigation techniques work….even here in Jackson County.

Basford described the main forensic and investigative information factors which when taken in concert by the jury, resulted in the conviction of a heartless murderer.

First, there was the telephone data which clearly proved that Williams was in Marianna near the time of the murders, and that he was in contact with Danielle several times just before she was killed. Secondly, there was the Mitochondrial DNA evidence taken from a hair found on the duct tape used to bind one of the children. This DNA is carried by the mother’s genetic code, and indicated that the hair on the tape came from Williams. Thirdly, FDLE found a spent projectile in the yard of an apartment where Williams had fired his gun in 2004. The characteristics of this projectile were very similar to those of the projectiles taken from the fatal wound of Danielle Baker. And finally, the testimony of Bay County Sheriff McKeithan in an interview from 2008 in which Williams admitted to being at the scene of the murder while claiming someone else actually performed the murders was very convincing.

“When you look at all of this data objectively, it is difficult to not come up with the conclusion that Williams was directly involved in these murders,” stated Basford. “I am thankful the jury felt the same way.” The jury only deliberated for a little over two hours before delivering the guilty verdicts.

When asked about his opinion relating to the character of Williams, Basford was animate when he answered. “I was involved in his conviction for felony assault several years ago in Calhoun County. He was sentenced to five years as a result. I know he is capable of violent acts.”

Lou Roberts (Jackson County Sheriff):

“I am very proud that this case has been brought to a successful conclusion. It has been number one on the unsolved murder list for our county for several years,” Sheriff Lou Roberts said with a smile. “This department has devoted a tremendous amount of time and resources to this case, and it is great to see that work finally pay off.

I am especially appreciative of the assistance of the State Attorney’s Office for their focus on this case, as well as the continuing support of the Marianna Police Department and the FDLE. It was a “team” effort, and it paid off.”

During his campaign for Sheriff last year Roberts promised to make reducing the number of unsolved murder cases in Jackson County a high priority. This arrest and conviction is a big step towards keeping that promise. “We still have other cases which need attention. Now that this terrible multiple murder has been brought to a resolution, we will immediately begin working on other unsolved cases,” Roberts stated.

Editor’s Note: Hess has good reason to be proud of the work of his organization. The Jackson County Times says “Congratulations and good work!”

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