Prosecutors today asked permission to enter evidence linking Wayne B. Williams to the murders of 10 young blacks in addition to the two killings for which he is on trial.
It was the first time authorities have publicly connected Williams to more than two of 28 slayings of young blacks, whose murders baffled and terrorized this southern city for two years. He has been charged with the murders of Nathaniel Cater, 27, and Jimmy Ray Payne, 21.
Prosecutors refused to comment on whether Williams would ever be charged with any of the other deaths, but Georgia law allows them to introduce evidence from other murders if they can convince Judge Clarence Cooper that the deaths fit the same pattern as the two murders for which Williams is standing trial.
Williams is the only person to be arrested and charged with any of the slayings, but a police affidavit links him to 18 of the murders, in addition to those of Cater and Payne.
Cooper excused the jury for the weekend before the prosecution outlined its evidence in the 10 allegedly related cases. He said he would try to rule by Monday on whether to allow the jury to hear the evidence, which includes fiber evidence similar to that already outlined in the Cater and Payne killings.
Prosecutors also want to introduce bloodstain evidence and witnesses who they say can place Williams in the company of three of the additional 10 victims.
The victims named in court yesterday range from Alfred James Evans, who was found strangled in the woods in July, 1979, to William Barrett, who was strangled, stabbed and dumped off an interstate highway in May, 1981.
Among the 10 victims on the prosecutors' list is John Herald Porter, 30, who was found stabbed to death in a vacant lot in southwest Atlanta last April. Although this case was examined by a special police task force investigating the series of 28 murders of young blacks in Atlanta, Porter was never added to the official list of victims.
Assistant Fulton County prosecutor Joe Drolet read briskly down the list of 10 victims, rattling off circumstances suggesting that their deaths fit a pattern, then tying that pattern to Williams, 23.
Drolet said the evidence "tends to prove plan, scheme, pattern, bent of mind and identity in the two killings for which Williams is accused." After the defense objected that the pattern was unclear, Drolet said, "That pattern was so obvious that it caught the attention of the entire western world."
In all 10 cases, there was no evidence of "forced abduction," said Drolet. Each victim was found dumped in an area "easily accessible" from the interstate highways that crisscross the city.
All but one of the 10 victims died from strangulation or asphyxiation -- the same cause of death in the Cater and Payne cases--and three suffered stab wounds. At least half were missing clothing when their bodies were found.
Blood found on the back seat of Williams' white Chevrolet station wagon matches the blood type of Barrett and Porter, who were stabbed, said Drolet. He said witnesses can place Williams with three victims: Lubie Geter, Joseph Bell and Larry Rogers.
And fiber evidence found on all 10 bodies matches fibers taken from Williams' house and car, including the green carpet in his bedroom and his violet and green bedspread. The number of matching fibers ranges from two on 15-year-old "Jo-Jo" Bell to 11 on 12-year-old Patrick Baltazar.
Defense lawyer Alvin Binder argued that it was too early to introduce other cases because the prosecution had yet to prove that Cater and Payne were murdered. The fiber evidence was insufficient to link Williams to the two victims conclusively, he said.
"You've got to have a body that met death by foul play, and you've got to have evidence of a connection between that body and this defendant," Binder said.
Binder insisted that there were too many differences among the victims to form a pattern, and that police had identified suspects other than Williams in at least five of the 10 cases. He suggested that one victim was a homosexual and his client was not.
Earlier today, FBI agent Harold Deadman, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and microanalyst in the bureau's Washington laboratory, testified that it would be "virtually impossible" to have matched so many fibers found on Cater and Payne to fabrics in Williams' house and car unless the two victims had come into contact with him.
Since fibers found on murder victims reflect their environment shortly before or after death, Deadman said the fibers found on Cater and Payne suggest that they were inside Williams' house shortly before or after they died.