News of Delaware County
UPPER DARBY – Families of both the victims and the accused packed opposing sides of an Upper Darby courtroom Friday at an emotional preliminary hearing for a Philadelphia man police say took part in a double murder.
District Justice Christopher Mattox held two counts of first-degree murder charges against Darryl Stanley Williams. He is scheduled for arraignment in Delaware County Common Pleas Court on Dec. 16.
The 22-year-old turned himself in to authorities in September after the shooting deaths of Jamie Durham and Juwann Ellis, both 18, were featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”
Murder charges against co-defendant William “Ray” Rankins, 24, also of Philadelphia, were held after a June hearing.
The teenagers were gunned down during a botched robbery attempt shortly before midnight April 15 in the 200 block of LeCarra Drive, according to police reports.
Durham’s aunt Juanita Robinson wore a T-shirt displaying a photograph of her niece with the words “In Loving Memory” printed beneath it. She was among those who shed tears during testimony.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Hurchella presented testimony from witnesses, police officers and a ballistics report identifying ammunition found at the scene from two different weapons.
“[Rankins] showed me a gun,” said one witness who placed Rankins and Williams near the crime scene at about 11:30 p.m. “He pulled up his shirt and I seen it in his waistband. I thought he … was going to do me because he doesn’t like me. He said he wants to rob people and shoot [them].”
A second witness testified that he saw two men flee toward a railroad spur behind the cul-de-sac at the end of LeCarra Drive.
“I was ready to walk my dogs,” said the witness. “I heard two or three shots. Then right after that I saw two black guys running…”
Detective Thomas Johnson said Ellis’ cell phone was missing. Rankins later told police the phone was thrown into a tributary of Cobbs Creek. It was later found about half a mile from the crime scene, according to Johnson.
Defense attorney Michael J. Diamondstein agreed with the prosecution’s charge that Rankins was a shooter, but vehemently maintained Williams’ innocence.
“There’s no evidence that my client had a gun,” argued Diamondstein. “To hold this man for murder in the first degree … the evidence is insufficient.”
“Circumstantial evidence is completely appropriate at a preliminary hearing,” countered Hurchella.
Williams was silent for most of the hour-long proceedings, speaking only when whispering into Diamondstein’s ear. Constables stopped him afterwards as he tried to approach nearby family members on his way out of the courtroom.
Police maintained tight security during the hearing, scanning attendees with hand held metal detectors before they were allowed to enter the courtroom.
“There will be no nonsense in this courtroom,” said Mattox to the crowd beforehand. “Let us do our job.”
Mattox struck down prohibitive offensive weapons charges against Williams. Diamondstein said he would file a motion to dispute the decision regarding the murder charges.
Hurchella would not comment on the prosecution’s case. Traditionally, however, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office tries co-defendants together. Rankins is scheduled for trial in January, according to officials. Both he and Williams are being held in prison.
By: Dan Russo