Attorneys are set to give opening statements Monday in Hall County Superior Court after selecting jurors for the murder trial of Joseph Scott Williams.
Williams is accused in the June 2013 shooting death of 37-year-old Adrian Thompson outside Pepper’s Grocery & Market on E.E. Butler Parkway in Gainesville.
The trial comes a little more than one year after the encounter between the two men on June 3, 2013. Williams was arrested hours later in a traffic stop after a lookout was issued by Gainesville police, who said the 33-year-old shot Thompson multiple times before fleeing down E.E. Butler Parkway.
Williams faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, possession of a gun during the commission of a crime and possession of a gun by a convicted felon.
After a day and a half of questioning, attorneys on Tuesday selected 12 jurors who will decide the case. Additionally three alternates will hear evidence, which is expected to include testimony from law enforcement and surveillance footage capturing the incident.
Williams’ lawyers have implied violent acts of Thompson influenced their client’s state of mind prior to the slaying, making them relevant to the case and a possible self-defense theory. Presiding Judge Jason Deal has twice postponed a decision on whether such evidence will be admissible.
Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva requested at a May pretrial hearing on the matter that the motion be denied outright, not to be reconsidered, saying evidence of prior violence presented was not complete or relevant, and excessively prejudicial for the state’s case. One incident was described as a nightclub tussle from more than 20 years ago.
Questioning of witnesses to the alleged acts by Williams’ lead counsel, Senior Public Defender Travis Williams, drew vocal reactions ranging from scorn to laughter from friends and family of both men who packed the courtroom. Many also showed visible support of Thompson by donning buttons and T-shirts that read “Justice 4 Adrian.”
The trial is expected to run until near the end of next week.