A former Oklahoma State University basketball player’s sexual assault conviction has been reversed because several jurors made unauthorized visits to the crime scene.
Darrell Williams, now 24, was convicted at a 2012 trial in Stillwater of two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery.
Williams was sentenced to a year on probation.
Two women testified at the trial that he groped them against their will at an off-campus party in December 2010.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his conviction Tuesday because of the visits and because jurors discussed their observations about the lighting at the crime scene.
Prosecutors had contended the error was harmless.
“We do not agree,” Vice Presiding Judge Clancy Smith wrote. “The lighting at the time of the crime was not only material, it was crucial to the state’s claim that Williams was the perpetrator, and to Williams’ claim that the victims’ identification of him was a mistake.
“The record shows that, in deliberating Williams’ guilt, jurors were exposed to and discussed several jurors’ personal observations of the scene, made at various times of day and in violation of the trial court’s specific instructions.”
His appeals attorney, John Coyle, said he hopes prosecutors will not retry Williams.
“We will be visiting them with soon,” Coyle said. “I sure hope this is the end of it for Darrell. He’s gone through some very difficult times. Having to register as a sex offender is like carrying around a big rock. ... It’s been very difficult for him. It ended his collegiate career.”
Williams, who is from Chicago, always insisted he didn’t do the crimes. He said after the trial he hopes to play basketball professionally someday.