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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A jury found Huntsville Police Officer William Ben Darby guilty of murder Friday morning.

Darby was charged with killing Jeffery Parker, 49, at his home on Deramus Avenue in April 2018. Darby shot Parker as he sat in his home with a gun to his head, talking to another Huntsville police officer, Genisha Pegues. Parker had called 911 and told a dispatcher he planned to shoot himself.

The jury took a little over two hours to deliver the verdict. The jury had to restart deliberations Friday morning after a juror that had a medical issue was replaced with an alternate. They had deliberated for about four and a half hours Thursday.

Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray released the following statement minutes after the jury announced their verdict:

“We are in the first stages of shock. While we thank the jury for their service in this difficult case, I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer. Officers are forced to make split-second decisions every day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of other officers were in danger. Any situation that involves a loss of life is tragic. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.”  

Chief Mark McMurray

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle also released a statement about the verdict:

“While I respect the jury’s opinion, I disagree with the verdict. We recognize this was a hard case with a lot of technical information to process. Officer Darby followed the appropriate safety protocols in his response on the scene. He was doing what he was trained to do in the line of duty. Fortunately, Officer Darby has the same appeal rights as any other citizen and is entitled to exercise those rights.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

Darby’s defense attorney Robert Tuten said in a statement that they plan to appeal the verdict:

“Everyone is shocked by the jury’s verdict.  While we appreciate their hard work and will give their verdict the respect that it deserves, we still disagree with their decision.  Officer Ben Darby will appeal this verdict.  Once reviewed at the Appellate level, this verdict will not stand.

Officer Darby’s case is extremely important to all Alabama Law Enforcement.  This case will clarify Alabama law regarding on-duty police shootings and will impact the way law enforcement protect Alabamians and perform their duties.  We look forward to the appeal of this case.”

Robert Tuten