Judge will allow key testimony in Huntsville Police Department officer’s murder trial

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A judge has made a key ruling in the case of a Huntsville Police Department officer facing a murder charge.

Officer William Darby is due to go on trial May 3 for the April 2018 on-duty shooting at the home of Jeffery Parker on Deramus Avenue. Darby was the third officer on the scene after Parker had called 911 saying he was suicidal.

Darby and his lawyers have argued he was acting to defend himself and other officers at the time of the shooting.

Madison County Circuit Judge Donna Pate rejected a key defense motion in an order Tuesday.

The defense had asked that a statement from another officer on the scene be excluded from testimony.

Officer Genisha Pegues has previously testified that Parker — who was fatally shot by Darby — had told her he wasn’t going to shoot her.

The judge said Tuesday the jury can hear that testimony.

The court also ruled that the findings of a Huntsville Police Department shooting review board, which cleared Darby of wrongdoing in the shooting, will not be presented during the trial.

And, the court ruled that the jury will not hear that Officer Pegues was made to take some remedial training after the incident.

Darby has argued Pegues was not behind cover while talking to Parker. Parker was holding a gun to his own head.

Darby shot Parker after he refused three commands to put the gun down.

The judge also granted a defense motion that barred officer statements from the Huntsville Police Department’s internal affairs investigation.

Darby was indicted in August 2018; prosecutors said they didn’t see that he was in imminent danger. The same day the indictment was announced Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said Darby’s conduct that day “saved lives” and that he was in no way “a murderer.”

After a hearing in 2019, where Darby, Pegues, another officer and use of force experts testified, the court rejected Darby’s self-defense argument. If that argument had succeeded, there would be no pending murder trial.

The Darby trial is set to become the first high-profile case in Madison County that includes COVID-19 protocols.

The trial, including jury selection, is expected to take about a week.

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