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Jury selection begins in trial of Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams

Attorneys for both sides hint at direction of their arguments in questioning the pool of potential jurors
BY ANTHONY SLATER, Staff Writer, aslater@opubco.com Published: July 9, 2012

photo - Darrell Williams, right, a suspended Oklahoma State basketball player accused of sexually assaulting two women at a campus party, returns to the courtroom with one of his defense attorneys, Cheryl Ramsey, left, following a break in the first day of jury selection in his trial in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO104
Darrell Williams, right, a suspended Oklahoma State basketball player accused of sexually assaulting two women at a campus party, returns to the courtroom with one of his defense attorneys, Cheryl Ramsey, left, following a break in the first day of jury selection in his trial in Stillwater, Okla., Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO104

STILLWATER — The long-awaited trial of Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams finally began on Monday at Payne County Courthouse, with both sides cross-examining potential jurors during the early stages of a lengthy selection process.

Quietly sitting between defense attorneys Cheryl Ramsey and Willie Baker, Williams intently listened to back-and-forth banter among a crowded courtroom of jurors, media members and supporters.

The questioning was extensive and personal, ultimately leading to the dismissal of eight potential jurors for various reasons, including two who admitted that the nature of the case, dealing with sexual abuse, would sway their bias against the defendant.

Williams is being charged with four counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery, dating back to an alleged incident that took place on Dec. 12, 2010 during a house party at the 400 block of S. Lewis Street. He was formally charged on Feb. 7, 2011.

Because of various delays and setbacks, the trial was pushed back more than a year, finally commencing on Monday morning.

Although neither side went into the specifics of their case on day one, both hinted at the direction of their arguments, using hypothetical analogies when examining the jurors.

Assistant district attorney and prosecutor Jill Tontz spoke first, questioning the jury members about their personal life and motives.

Tontz hit on what seem to be the key points of her case, stating that the alleged victims are the most important witnesses because they know exactly what happened and that reporting a sexual assault days after it happened, like in this case, is common for multiple reasons.

Also, not directly referring to Williams but seeming to imply him, Tontz said that although someone may be portrayed as a great person, that doesn't necessarily mean they haven't made a criminal mistake.

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