Shooter in Demopolis case released Tuesday

Darius Powell is a free man after Tuesday’s hearing in which Circuit Court Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. consented to the defense’s request to split the 15-year sentence to three years.

“There could be some debate about the three years, but given the fact that he had been locked up for a period of three years, we felt like the resolution was fair,” District Attorney Greg Griggers, who did not oppose the defense’s request, said f Hardaway’s decision.

Tuesday marked three years to the day since Powell was arrested for his role in the Feb. 2008 shooting death of Demopolis resident Randy Warren.

Powell, who was 16 at the time of the incident, entered a guilty plea to the charge of manslaughter last month after seeing his first attempt at exoneration result in a mistrial earlier this spring when he faced murder charges.

Powell, who was a football and basketball player during his senior year at John Essex High School at the time of his arrest, entered Warren’s residence along with Jeffery Williams Feb. 16, 2008. What transpired between the time the duo entered the residence and the time of the actual shooting has been a point of contention in the case.

“I don’t know how it would have come out if we would have tried it again, but there were enough issues in it that we felt comfortable with the manslaughter plea,” Griggers said of the case, which resulted in a hung jury earlier this year.

Powell’s account of the event points to an altercation between Williams and Warren. According to Griggers, Powell said he attempted to break up the altercation by shooting Warren in the arm. According to that account, Williams is alleged to have fired the shots that ultimately killed Warren. Griggers noted that Powell’s account is consistent with the evidence presented in the case as well as the established pattern of behavior for Williams, who is currently serving a 30-year sentence for other crimes.

“The evidence indicated pretty clearly that there were two people involved in the death of our victim. His confession to law enforcement was that he had shot our victim as a way to get him apart from the other person charged in this case. The physical evidence supported the statement that he gave because the victim was shot once in the shoulder then he was shot two additional times in the chest. It looked as if at that point he was defenseless because the gunshot wounds were so close to one another. A lot of things were consistent with what Powell admitted to the police,” Griggers said. “We had a lot of theories but when it came down to the evidence, which is what we base what we do on, we had no way of proving that there was an intent when they walked inside to either rob our victim or kill him. Based on what we had, it did appear as if a dispute arose after they were all there and then it led to our victim being shot. It happened as he admitted.”

Demopolis Police Department officers arrested Powell and Williams Nov. 20, 2009, more than 22 months after the incident. Williams faces a murder charge in the case but a trial date has not been set as the Department of Corrections has declined to release him based on his diagnoses of tuberculosis.