An eight-member jury found Gary Lynn Williams not guilty Wednesday of the stabbing death of Adam Arroyo Garcia after four hours of deliberation.
In a closing-argument battle in 3rd District Court over witness credibility, defense counsel Richard Uday cautioned jury members to question the testimony of several state witnesses. But deputy county attorney Greg Warner told jurors Williams' denials of involvement were more shaky than other witnesses' testimony.Before Judge James S. Sawaya sent the jury to deliberate, Uday noted that five state witnesses were granted immunity from possible drug convictions for their own roles in the events of Oct. 15, 1991, in exchange for their testimony.
"What's happened here this last week is not what America's about. I hope we haven't gotten to the place where we grant immunity to convicted drug users . . . for the state to get a conviction," he said.
Williams, 33, Magna, was charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, in the Oct. 15 killing of Garcia. Garcia's body was found lying in front of a business at 1165 S. Richards St. (25 West). Garcia was said to be a drug dealer, and Salt Lake police officers testified earlier they believe his death was the result of a disputed drug transaction.
Many of the witnesses, also admitted drug users, had a motive and the means to kill Garcia, Uday said. "A lot of mud has been thrown in this case and some of it has stuck," he told jurors. "You have to decide whether the stuff that has stuck is enough" to convict.
But Warner said the testimony from the witnesses who have been given immunity was pivotal to the state's case: "It's practical; it's what we have to do.
"Yeah, they've (the witnesses) got a lot of problems. But they don't have anything to hide."
Warner said the state had presented jury members with "everything but a videotape and a full confession from the defendant."
Uday disputed the state's emphasis on circumstantial evidence police recovered three months after Garcia was killed.
Williams was arrested Jan. 16 after a witness told police she had Williams' knife, the same knife the state says was used to kill Garcia. Uday said Williams was not a suspect in the slaying until the woman's Dec. 23 phone call.
In addition, he said at least two wounds on Garcia's body could not have been made by Williams' knife because the blade is wider than the wound openings.
But Warner said measuring stab wounds is not an exact science, and jury members should not focus on uncertain defense arguments. "This is not a game. You decide what happened. Find out the state's burden of proof and whether we've carried it."