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Parole hearing held in notorious Johnson City rape case

BECKY CAMPBELL • Mar 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

MOUNTAIN CITY — David Jerry Williams’ name may not ring a bell to residents in the Tri-Cities, but pair it with Doug Forbes and they’ll likely remember him. Williams, now 68, had his first parole hearing Monday on a life sentence for aggravated rape of a Johnson City housewife nearly 30 years ago. Melissa McDonald, public information spokewoman for the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, said Williams’ case requires four concurring votes. At the end of his hearing, Williams already had two “no” votes. His case file will now make its way to each of the other five TBOPP members until there are four concurring votes, McDonald said. If he receives a full denial, the next recommended consideration for Williams is in 2014. He will be 75. Williams was convicted of rape and aggravated rape in 1980. He received 20 years on the rape and life on the aggravated rape with the sentences to run consecutive. He has finished the 20-year sentence and is serving the life sentence. The crime Williams is serving time on, which even he agreed during the approximately 40 minute hearing was “heinous” and “violent,” led to Forbes’ release from prison after he was wrongly convicted of two other rapes. During the investigation of the housewife’s rape, which happened in June 1980, Johnson City police investigators said Williams confessed to nine rapes in the area — two that Forbes was convicted of in 1978 and serving 60 years in prison at the time. Forbes was later granted a full pardon and released after serving five years. Forbes’ name was not mentioned during Williams’ hearing Monday, but Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole members Yusuf Hakeem and James Austin talked about the other seven rapes to which Williams confessed. The hearing was con- ducted by four-way video with Hakeem in Chattanooga, Austin in Nashville, Williams and four of his family members in Mountain City at Northeast Correctional Center where he is serving his sentence, and one of the rape victims and her ex-husband in Johnson City. Hakeem also asked Williams to describe what happened on that June 1980 night when he attacked the Johnson City housewife. Williams’ version was a cleaned-up recollection, possibly due to failing memory, according to his explanation. He said he’d been drinking at a friend’s house and took a shortcut on the way home, and even called the rape a “crime of opportunity” at one point during the hearing. “I went into the ... house and I went into the bedroom and I disrobed her. I led her out of the house and I raped her beside the house. As best as I can remember some lights flashed and I ran,” Williams told the two board members during part of his brief explanation. “I know it was a violent act,” he said. But he didn’t disagree with the record, which stated the woman’s detailed version of a brutal attack at knifepoint. Hakeem went through the incident step by step, which said Williams beat the woman repeatedly, pulled her pants down, dragged her out of the house with a knife at her throat and threatened to cut her. “I don’t make excuses. What you have in the record is a better recollection than I have,” Williams told Hakeem. Three of Williams’ family members asked Hakeem and Austin to allow him an opportunity to return home. “We don’t condone what he did, but we feel like he has paid the price. He has a loving and supportive family that’s waiting to welcome him home,” said Williams’ sister, Carolyn Williams. She said before her brother was arrested for the rapes, he was “a very upstanding family man. What prompted this, we don’t know.” She said in the last five years their parents have passed away and two of her brothers have died while he’s been incarcerated. There was no sympathy from Williams’ victim, however, because she said Williams destroyed her life and marriage. She and her husband eventually divorced after the rape because they were never able to get their feet back on the ground. The couple had been to dinner with friends the night of the rape and the husband went to take the baby-sitter home when Williams entered their home and dragged the woman out and raped her beside the house. When the woman’s husband drove up, he said their 3-year-old daughter ran down the driveway. She was distraught and “babbling,” about her mother. The woman described for Austin and Hakeem how she had ignored her daughter’s frightened cries in the house as Williams dragged her, naked and with a knife to her throat, past the girl. She said she was afraid to take Williams’ attention off her so she wouldn’t acknowledge her daughter as the girl cried for her mother. “I knew when he took me out the side carport door I would probably never see my three precious children again,” she said. But her husband’s car headlights scared Williams away. The woman said she got pregnant from the rape and had to go through the ordeal of an abortion. Williams has a minimum restricted custody level and has worked in a data position for 17 years. He has completed a 7-step program, but Hakeem did not elaborate on the program details. He asked Williams if he had participated in any other rehabilitative programs or counseling, but Williams said he has not. When Hakeem asked what reason the board should have to grant parole, Williams said he didn’t really have a good reason, especially given what the victim said. “I know what’s in my heart and I want out. I am really, truly sorry. I’m not saying that just to get out,” he said. “I can’t give a good reason, sir.” After the denial from Austin and Hakeem, Williams’ family asked why there had not been any such suggestion prior to the hearing. Hakeem said that wasn’t a question for the board. Williams said he remembered there being a sexual offender program offered early in his prison sentence, but he didn’t take it then and apparently never asked about it again.

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