Stillwater News Press

Local News

August 23, 2012

Former OSU men's basketball player Darrell Williams' supporters believe he is innocent

STILLWATER, Okla. — Brooke Brant is so convinced of her friend Darrell Williams’ innocence, she would let the former Oklahoma State University basketball player convicted of rape by instrumentation baby-sit her 4-year-old daughter.

“Darrell is scared of his own shadow,” Brant said. Brant is a Stillwater housewife  who became friends with Williams through her cousin, Kyle Klaus. “He’s scared of my dog. He’s not the kind of guy who would do something like this. I know his character. I know he couldn’t do this. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know that he is innocent.”

Brant wore a bright orange T-shirt with “Free Darrell” written across the front to Thursday night’s Social Justice Advocacy Forum at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

Brant was one of those attending the event that featured a speech by civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“(Williams) has been to our home many times for birthday parties, cookouts, things like that,” Brant said. The housewife said she has collected 1,600 signatures on a petition to appeal Williams’ conviction.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Asked if she will be attending a prayer vigil outside the Payne County Courthouse, Brant said, “Absolutely, I will be there.”

Two members of Wings of Hope Family Crisis Center, a victim’s advocacy organization, attended the event, which came two nights after victims-rights advocates held a candlelight vigil on the courthouse lawn.

“We continue to support victims of abuse,” said Marie Abraham-Robinson, senior counselor at Wings of Hope. “I am just heart-broken that Rev. Jackson or any of the other ministers didn’t pray for the victims and their families.”

Abraham-Robinson, who attended the event with Brenda Gill, another senior counselor at Wings of Hope, said the number of people who attended the event made a statement in itself.

“I thought there would be a lot more people there,” she said. “I think the community made a statement by not attending the forum.”

Abraham-Robinson said that Peggy Fleschute, a victim’s advocate, will be in the courtroom during sentencing on Friday.

Several members of the Williams family declined comment after the forum, but 21-year-old Alicia Williams, Darrell Williams’ sister, said, “the only thing I’m going to say is that my brother is innocent.”

Several members of the Oklahoma State University basketball team attended the event, including assistant coaches Steve Middleton, Chris Ferguson and Tommy Wade. Players in attendance were Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart, Kamari Murphy and Michael Cobbins. Tiffany Bias, who plays on the OSU women’s basketball team, also was there.

The players arrived at the forum about an hour after it began.

Stillwater resident Rich Collins attended as a show of support for Williams, whom he has never met. Collins wore a black T-shirt with “Free Darrell” written across the front.

“I hope to see some kind of justice in this case,” Collins said. “And justice in this case would be a retrial. There were zero black people on that jury. I would like to see a more diversified jury. As it was, he was not judged by his peers.”

“I think it was amazing the number of supporters from across races,” Stillwater resident Chris Wright said. “I think the overall tone of this was that it wasn’t focused on race, but on democracy and due process.”

Wright said a “clear and present racial line” exists when a young black man is charged with a sex crime in Payne County.

“I believe Darrell Williams to be innocent,” Stillwater resident Cameron Turner said. “I’m here just to support him. I figured if Rev. Jackson could come all this way to support him, I should too.”

 

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