UPDATE: Richard Williams was convicted Thursday of two counts of attempted first degree murder and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Sentencing is set for May 25.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The man charged in the shooting death of Fulton High School hero Zaevion Dobson stood trial Wednesday for allegedly shooting a witness of Dobson’s murder.
“The state finds the defendant unlawfully, intentionally and with premeditation attempt to kill Larry North,” prosecutor TaKisha Fitzgerald said in a Knox County courtroom.
Richard Williams, 22, was dressed in a pink button down, a cream-colored vest and gray slacks, as jurors heard opening statements and witness testimony.
Williams faces charges for the attempted murder of his childhood friend Larry North, 21.
The state tried to convince the jury that Williams shot North seven times on April 2, 2016, claiming he did so in retaliation, three months after North talked to investigators about Williams’ possible involvement in Dobson’s death.
At trial, prosecutors displayed to the jury text messages that Williams and North exchanged minutes before North was gunned down as he was walking down the steps of his apartment, holding his young nephew’s hand as he was shot.
The state also played the 911 recordings from last April.
“He’s been hit! He’s been hit! Yes, someone’s been hit,” a witness told the 911 operator.
Jurors also viewed pictures of North’s wounded body the night of the shooting and the loaded gun found in Williams’ possession when he was taken into custody, but the defense made a different argument.
Williams’ attorney told jurors that crime is on the rise and there are a lot of shootings that take place in the neighborhood in which the attempted murder took place, in an effort to raise doubt about the identity of the gunman.
“The state wants to commit a man of a very serious crime without any actual proof, just because of the area he lived in,” Kit Rodgers, the defense attorney, said to the jury. “There are a number of folks who could have shot Mr. North and just because people live in certain areas and hang out with certain people doesn’t mean they’re guilty.”
He also said the state does not have sufficient evidence to score a conviction.
“I don’t know what happened that night, and I don’t think that at the end of this you’re going to know what happened that night either, and if that’s the case, you need to find [Williams] not guilty,” Rodgers said.
The jury spent the remainder of the day hearing from witnesses, including the 911 operator who answered the emergency call and even North himself.
More witnesses are scheduled to take the stand on April 6.
Williams will face another trial on July 10, where he and Christopher Bassett, are charged with first-degree murder and eight counts of attempted first-degree murder in the death of Zaevion Dobson.