Syracuse, NY — A defense lawyer Tuesday challenged whether authorities really know who fired the fatal shot in June’s Rye Day shooting in Syracuse that left eight injured and one dead.
Devar Williams, 20, is accused of being one of roughly 10 gunmen that day, and the one who fired the fatal bullet at Performance Park on the city’s Near West Side that killed Chariel Osorio.
But Williams’ lawyer, Nicholas DeMartino, asserted that there’s no real evidence proving Williams was the actual killer. He indicated that nothing presented to him so far ties Williams directly to Osorio death.
Seven others were also charged with murder, as well, he noted. Neither Williams nor any of the others were charged as the killer, but as co-defendants who all engaged in depraved indifference to human life, an extreme recklessness that amounts to murder.
That implies that authorities really don’t know who the killer is, DeMartino said in court. After all, why charge eight people with murder if you can pinpoint which one actually fired the fatal shot?
He called it a “mixing bowl theory,” in which prosecutors throw everybody in, go to trial and hope someone gets convicted.
“I don’t think the People can prove who the person was who fired the fatal shot,” DeMartino said.
DeMartino’s challenge was an opportunity for prosecutors — if they wanted — to reveal evidence that tied Williams to Osorio’s death. But they didn’t have to yet, prosecutor Lauren Phelps noted.
Williams was only in court for a bail hearing — one of the first stages of a criminal court case.
The purpose of a bail hearing is to determine whether Williams will return to court before trial. While defense lawyers argued the murder case was weak — one bail factor — Phelps stuck to the severity of the charged crime — another factor judges can consider in determining someone’s motivation to flee.
In the end, Phelps convinced Judge Thomas J. Miller to agree to her bail request — $250,000 cash, $500,000 bond or $1 million partially secured bond (release upon a $100,000 premium) — without having to divulge any more about the prosecution’s case.
The case against Williams and the others is still in its early stages, and Williams was only in court Tuesday for a bail hearing. He’d been in custody for violating parole before now, making bail moot. Now, the murder case is the only thing holding him in jail.
Williams, like the others, faces up to 25 years to life in prison, if convicted. His lawyer argues that, without proof of murder, the charges should only be for illegal weapon possession and reckless endangerment, if there’s proof he fired an illegal gun into the crowd.
Williams is due back to court next month. The other people charged as gunmen during the shootout are also beginning their court cases, as well, as the pandemic court shutdown subsides.
Staff writer Douglass Dowty can be reached at [email protected] or 315-470-6070.