Plea entered in 2008 murder case

Darius Powell, one of the gunmen involved in the 2008 murder of Demopolis’ Randy Warren, pled guilty to manslaughter charges earlier this month.

Powell, who was 16 when he and Jeffery Williams entered Warren’s home on Feb. 16, 2008, entered the plea Monday, Oct. 15 as his case on murder charges was about to be retried.

“I had offered to plead him to manslaughter way back when this case originated after he was indicted for murder, the main reason being that his version of what happened inside my victim’s house was consistent with the physical evidence that we had. He admitted that he shot my victim but he contended that he didn’t shoot him and kill him and shot him just to break up a fight that was going on between the victim and another person that was with him, Jeffery Williams, who has also been charged,” District Attorney Greg Griggers said of Powell’s role in the incident. “The physical evidence was consistent with that. The pathology showed that the victim had been shot in the shoulder like he said he did. At the time he gave that statement, he wouldn’t have known what the pathology showed, so I don’t think he was making it up. I think he was admitting to what he did. The person that was with him, being a known violent offender, it was very easy to believe that he was the one who fired the fatal shots as opposed to Darius Powell.”

The Demopolis Police Department arrested Powell and Williams Nov. 20, 2009, 22 months after Warren’s death. Powell has remained at the Marengo County Detention Center while Williams is currently in the midst of a 30-year sentence for other crimes.

“He basically admitted to us that he was at Randy Warren’s house with another individual and a scuffle ensued and he pulled a gun and he shot him,” Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said of the case. “It brings closure for the department and Randy Warren’s family that the person who is responsible was brought to justice. I want to thank Det. Zack Fluker, Sgt. Tim Soronen and District Attorney Greg Griggers’ office for their hard work in getting this case resolved and this person brought to justice.”

Reese said there will be a $5,000 reward from the governor’s office paid out to an individual who came forward in 2009 with information that led to the arrest and conviction of Powell.

Powell’s case went to trial in February of this year, ending in a mistrial as the jury failed to reach a consensus in its verdict.

“He sat there and heard the case and he heard the evidence that we had. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I suspect that he felt pretty certain that he would be convicted if we tried the case again,” Griggers said.

Powell will remain at the Marengo County Detention Center until Nov. 20 when he faces sentencing. Griggers said he will pursue a 15-year sentence for the 21-year-old Powell but will not object if the defense asks that the sentence be split. Under that scenario, Powell could potentially be released the day of his sentencing, three years to the day after his arrest.

“Our agreement was 15 years. I think that he will request a split sentence. He has been incarcerated now for three years, or will be come Nov. 20. That is the longest split sentence that the judge can give. With a sentence of 15 years, he can split to a maximum of three years,” Griggers said of the decision that will likely face Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. “I have agreed that, if that is what he requests, we’ll stay out of it. If he were given 15 years, given this current state of the penitentiary system and with pardons and paroles, I don’t know how much more time you could really reasonably expect him to serve anyway.”

While Powell awaits sentencing, the case remains open for Williams, whose medical condition has the Department of Corrections reluctant to allow him to stand trial.

“We have attempted to set his case a couple of times, but due to the fact that he has been diagnosed with tuberculosis the DOC won’t release him from prison to come and stand trial, so until they say he can, we can’t,” Griggers said.  “This case is consistent with the behavior that we’ve had him involved in before. So it’s not the least bit hard to imagine that he was involved in this case just as Darius Powell has said he was. This is the same type of character we have seen him exhibit in the past.”