The parents and the brother of Maurice Williams were presented yesterday to prospective jurors who will decide the guilt or innocence of 12 Hanafi Muslims charged with murder in Williams' death last March during a siege at the District Building.
Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio had called the names of more than 90 potential government witnesses before he reached the Williams family. The parents, Otto and Lilly Williams, and their surviving son, Michael, stood briefly and impassively before the veniremen, and then walked quickly from the massive main hall of the Pension Building where the proceedings were being held.
Neither the defendants, who sat near where the Williams stood, nor the prospective jurors showed any sign of recognition or emotion when the family made its appearance.
Nor was there any sign of emotion when City Council member Marion S. Barry, who was wounded at the District Building, appeared, or when Alton S. Kirland, wounded during the takeover of B'nai B'rith headquarters, appeared, or when they heard the name of Fauzia Bayoumi, whom the Hanafis allegedly took hostage with other persons at the Islamic Center.
The lack of response was characteristic of the tedium of choosing a jury for one of the most publicized crimes in the city's history.
In all, Judge Nunzio called the names of 119 potential government witnesses. Of these, 57 were present and each stood briefly before the potential jurors.
There were 161 members of the jury panal when Nunzio started. When he finished, four of these had been excused because they knew a witness and said this would affect their ability to be impartial.
When the names of the possible government witnesses had been called, Nunzio returned to what he called "the laborious but important ordeal" of questioning the remaining panel members about whether they could render an impartial verdict in the case, even though they have heard or read about it.
The Hanafis are charged with murder, armed kidnaping, assualt with intent to kill and related offenses in conection with the taking of 149 hostages last March 9 at the District Building, B'nai B'rith headquarters at 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, and at the Islamic Center at 2551 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
The 32 count indictment charges them with undertaking the sieges to try to compel federal officials to turn over to them persons convicted of murdering seven Hanafi Muslims in 1973. All seven murder victims were members of the family of Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, alleged leader of the takeovers.
Maurice Williams, 24, a reporter of radio station WHUR, was killed by a shotgun blast at the beginning of the District Building incident.
Abdul Muzikir, 23, also known at Marquette Anthony Hall, is accused of the shooting. All 12 Hanafis are accused of felony murder in the first degree - murder committed in the course of another crime, to wit, kidnaping - in the death of Williams. All 12 also are accused of second-degrees murder under the theory that all were conspirators.
Because all the events at the three locations were widely reported, the crucial question for the prospective jurors is this:
"Although I have read, seen or heard through some source about this case or the defendant(s), I have not formed such a fixed opinion or conviction about the guilt or innocence of the defendant(s) that would prevent me from rendering a fair and impartial verdict according to the evidence received at trial and the instructions of law which the Court will give."
A total of 180 persons out of 431 who appeared for jury duty in the case answered "yes" to this question when the selection process began Wednesday. They also said they could be sequestered under guard for four to 12 weeks, the expected length of the trial. This group of 180 became the "prime" candidates for jury duty.
By yesterday morning, 163 remained in the pool. By the end of the day, only 131 veniremen remained. Fifty of these must still undergo private questioning by Judge Nunzio on the publicity issue. Ultimately, 12 jurors and 12 alternates will be chosen.
In an effort to speed matters. Nunzio ordered all those remaining in the "prime" jury pool to return to court at 9:30 this morning for an unusual Saturday session.