DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A man standing trial for the shooting deaths of two DeKalb County police officers has been found guilty of murder.
Officers Ricky Bryant Jr. and Eric Barker were gunned down working off-duty security jobs at an apartment complex near Decatur in 2008. William Woodard, 31, could face the death penalty in the case. He said he shot them in self-defense but was found guilty Friday on several counts of murder, along with weapons violations.
“DeKalb County will shoot you first and ask questions later,” Woodard said in court earlier this week.
Woodard, a three-time convicted felon, said he had never been mistreated by an officer before the confrontation in question. He said he was down on the ground when the officers beat him and opened fire. Prosecutors said he shot them to avoid going back to prison.
Channel 2’s Tom Jones was in court Thursday when the defense called the slain officers bullies with badges, claiming prosecutors hid evidence to manipulate the case.
Witnesses previously testified they didn’t see the officers hit Woodard, whom they said shot first.
It took about seven hours for jurors to find Woodard guilty on all eight charges against him. A gag order prevented attorneys on both sides from discussing the verdict, but Woodard's family maintained his innocence.
"They're covering up a lot of stuff. The state is covering up a lot of stuff," Woodard's mother, Emily Gutierrez, told Channel 2's Carl Willis on her way out of court.
The state plans on conducting a mental evaluation in the next few days before calling more than 50 witnesses during the sentencing phase of the case.