Defense lawyers for murder suspect Wayne B. Williams today produced four of his associates in an attempt to refute the prosecution's suggestions that Williams was a failure in the music business and a homosexual who held poor blacks in low regard.
The witnesses were two adult singers Williams had worked with, the owner of a recording studio where Williams sometimes worked, and a self-styled independent television producer.
One singer, Carolyn Bailey, told defense attorney Alvin Binder she would not be afraid to leave her two young sons, aged 9 and 5, with Williams. Binder asked Bailey if Williams had ever said anything "improper" around them, and she replied, "No, they love him."
Williams, 23, is charged with the murders of Jimmy Ray Payne, 21, and Nathaniel Cater, 27, two of the last victims in a string of 28 mysterious deaths of young Atlanta blacks investigated by a special police task force and the FBI.
Another singer, Howard Peoples, 32, said he has recorded "a tune" called "Ain't It A Shame," that Williams co-authored. He said the record will be released shortly.
Peoples said Williams had helped introduce him to the music business when they first met in 1979, adding that Williams is "very serious" and "knowledgeable" about the business.
Peoples also testified that he had been employed by the Upjohn pharmaceutical company for more than seven years, but left last summer to pursue his professional singing career full time.
Defense lawyers asked all four witnesses if Williams had ever used racial slurs to refer to blacks, especially poor black children. The witnesses indicated that they had never heard Williams express contempt for blacks.
The defense also asked three of the witnesses if they had ever seen Williams make homosexual advances or had any reason to believe he is homosexual. All three replied negatively.
Binder did not ask the independent television producer, Willie Hunter, about Williams' sexual preferences.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Clarence Cooper today granted a defense motion to take the jury in the Williams trial to view the James Jackson Parkway bridge over the Chattahoochee River, where Williams first became a suspect in the Atlanta slayings last May 22.
Williams was seen driving slowly across the bridge about 3 a.m. May 22, seconds after a police recruit on stakeout duty heard a loud splash "similar to the sound of a body hitting the water" in the river below.
Williams' defense team had requested that the jury visit the bridge because the May 22 incident is a cornerstone of the prosecution's circumstantial case against Williams.
About 55 hours after Williams was spotted on the bridge, Nathaniel Cater's nude, decomposing body surfaced about a mile downstream. Prosecutors contend that the splash heard by the police recruit was made by Cater's body entering the water.
Cooper has scheduled the jury's visit to the bridge for Saturday morning. The jurors, however, will not hear any testimony at the bridge or see a reenactment of the May 22 incident.
Cooper also heard arguments on motions to quash defense subpoenas of former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson and a police sketch artist. Cooper took the motions under advisement.