Co-Defendant Mitchell Pleads To Lesser Charge
Dexter Vashin Carridine was found guilty Thursday on all charges concerning the 2014 murder of Rodrez Deon Williams.
The verdict was returned about 1:30 p.m. in Ware County Superior Court after a three-day jury trial.
Judge Mike DeVane sentenced him immediately after the verdict to life plus 10 years in prison.
A co-defendant, Torrence James Mitchell, had earlier entered a plea to a lesser charge of withholding the death of a person and will be sentenced March 29, said Assistant District Attorney Charles Watkins. He is expected to receive a sentence of 10 years probation.
Watkins said Mitchell also agreed to testify for the state and his sentencing was withheld until after the trial so that he could give testimony on the witness stand.
Testimony that doomed Carridine came from a citizen who happened to see the defendant do away with evidence, two cell phones, which he deposited into a storm drain on a public street. The man thought it strange enough behavior that he contacted police, who retrieved the phones.
The verdict came as a needed relief for the many members of the Williams family in the courtroom who had been awaiting justice for two years, said District Attorney George Barnhill.
Watkins, assisted by Investigator Hilton Boyett, presented the case on behalf of the State of Georgia.
Watkins said he “was thankful that justice was done.” He praised the efforts of Investigator Hope Salinas, of the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, and Special Agent Dale Wiley, of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, saying the he “could not have secured a conviction without the excellent work of the law enforcement officers involved.”
Carridine, after firing his second court-appointed counsel, demanded he be allowed to represent himself during the trial and the court agreed.
Jury selection took place Monday and the trial began Tuesday with opening statements followed by witness testimony.
Barnhill said evidence and testimony over the course of two days involved extensive cell telephone information about Carridine purchasing a disposable cell phone at Walmart the day before the murder and using it to call Williams, luring him to a meeting. Call logs and cell tower data showed the phone was activated and then used only over a two-day period, with all use ending just after the murder was committed, said Barnhill.
In a dramatic part of the trial, a key witness testified to seeing Carridine throw two cell phones into a storm drain across town from the crime scene on the morning after the murder.
Because of the peculiar nature of Carridine’s action, he alerted law enforcement, Barnhill said. The phones were recovered from the storm sewer by GBI Agent Dale Wiley and the City of Waycross Water and Sewer Department.
Barnhill said that, when processed, the phones were found to be the disposable phone purchased by Carridine the night before the murder and the personal phone of the victim, Williams. Walmart officials assisted producing videos showing Carridine purchasing the phone.
Another witness testified he was in the car when Carridine pulled his pistol and shot Williams in the back of the head twice and in the chest once. Being fearful of repercussions from the accused, Barnhill said, he did not report it to law enforcement until several months later. His conscience getting the better of him, he finally came forth and told police what he had seen.
Luckily, Barnhill said, witnesses in the area along with the crime scene work done by the GBI were able to corroborate his version of the events and together proved to be more than enough evidence to convict.
The defendant presented an alibi by testimony of his girlfriend, which was discounted by the jury.
Closing arguments were heard Thursday morning. The jury deliberated for just over an hour and then returned a guilty verdict on all counts.
Carridine was sentenced to life in prison for murder plus five years consecutive for use of a weapon in commission of a crime and five years consecutive for possession of firearm by a convicted felon, Barnhill said.
Watkins also gave special credit to the Sheriff Randy Royal and the Ware County Sheriff’s Office for providing security throughout the tense and emotionally charged trial.
Barnhill commended Watkins for the large amount of time and effort he put into this case.
“Charles has been with us less than two years and this was a large case for him and our office,” Barnhill said. “We are all very proud of him and congratulate him on the hard work and effort paying off.”