Alabama Supreme Court rejects Huntsville officer William Darby’s self-defense claim

Huntsville Police Department officer William Darby testifies at his immunity hearing at the Madison County Courthouse, April 3, 2019.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Alabama Supreme Court Friday denied Huntsville Police Department officer William Darby’s efforts to have his murder charge thrown out based on a self-defense claim.

The ruling could pave the way for a Madison County judge to set a date for Darby’s murder trial.

Darby was indicted for murder in August 2018 for the April 2018 shooting death of Jeffery Parker, 49, at Parker’s home on Deramus Avenue. Darby was among the officers who responded to the house after Parker called 911 and told dispatchers he planned to “blow his brains out.”

The fatal encounter was the subject of an immunity hearing in April 2019, in which Darby’s attorneys argued he was acting in self-defense and the murder charge should be tossed.

Darby testified that he shot Parker after Parker refused his commands to lower the gun from his own head. The defense argued Darby’s actions were to protect a fellow officer, who was in a vulnerable position as she talked to Parker. But that officer, Genisha Pegues, testified she didn’t feel threatened by Parker.

A Huntsville Police Department review board cleared Darby of wrongdoing in May 2018, finding Darby’s conduct in the shooting incident was within department policy. But the Madison County District Attorney’s office took the case to a grand jury last August. The grand jury indicted Darby for murder.

The immunity hearing in April was a chance for Darby to end the prosecution against him, but Circuit Judge Donna Pate ruled that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to show he acted in self-defense.

Darby’s lawyers appealed that ruling to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, which also rejected the claim.

They then appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court, which denied the petition this morning.

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