Trial for Huntsville police officer charged with murder starts Monday

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville police officer William Darby will go on trial for a murder charge that stemmed from an April 2018 on-duty shooting.

The trial for Darby was delayed by his efforts to have the case tossed on the grounds that he acted in self-defense. The court ruled against him on that argument. His trial was further delayed by the pandemic, but Monday jury selection will begin.

The jury pool is expected to include about 60 people and the trial is expected to last a week.

The trial is taking place at a time when the Huntsville Police Department is under increased scrutiny following a critical review of its actions during last summer’s police brutality protests.

Darby, who is still with HPD, is charged with killing Jeffery Parker at Parker’s home on Deramus Avenue in April 2018. Parker called 911 saying he was suicidal.

Darby was the third officer on the scene. The first officer there said Parker said he wouldn’t hurt her. Darby’s lawyers argue he entered a dangerous situation and only shot Parker after he failed to comply with multiple requests to drop the gun he was holding against his own head.

An HPD Review Board cleared Darby, but a grand jury indicted him in August 2018. That disagreement was spelled out the day Darby was indicted.

That day Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said, “Officer Darby performed his duties in accordance with his training and he is in our support at this time.”

Rob Broussard, Madison County District Attorney said, “Usually what you’re looking at is whether an officer reasonably feared for his life, before he was forced, to take, to use deadly physical force. And on these particular facts of the case, we had concern.”

The Huntsville City Council also voted in early 2019 to pay up to $125,000 for Darby’s defense.

The case is being heard by Circuit Judge Donna Pate. Darby is being prosecuted by Madison County DA’s Office chief trial attorney Tim Gann and Assistant District attorney Tim Douthit. He is being represented by attorney Robert Tuten. Both Gann and Tuten are former Huntsville Police Department officers.

Judge Pate Friday denied a defense motion requesting that Parker not be referred to as a “victim,” in the case.

The trial is set to start early Monday, May 3.

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