Emotions are running high while a man awaits his fate after killing two DeKalb County police officers.
William Woodard, 31, was found guilty last week of gunning down officers Ricky Bryant Jr. and Eric Barker while they worked off-duty security jobs at an apartment complex near Decatur in 2008. He could face the death penalty.
Channel 2’s Tom Jones was in a DeKalb courtroom Wednesday when Woodard’s aunt, Juanita Graves, pleaded for jurors to spare his life. She screamed on the stand and deputies rushed to her side to make sure she didn’t harm herself or anyone else.
The jury was sent out of the courtroom during the outburst and Woodard’s aunt was dismissed from further testimony. She cried as she left the room, apologizing to Woodard and the judge. During testimony, she said she has mental issues and has used drugs in the past.
The incident came on the heels of more emotional testimony Tuesday. Bryant’s wife, LaToya, tried to hold back tears as she described spending wedding anniversaries at her husband’s grave.
“Wishing and praying that this was all a bad dream and I was going to wake up soon,” the widow said.
Bryant’s mother also said she is still in disbelief, and co-workers said the deaths devastated the police department. Some resigned following the shooting.
“Because they could not go back to being a police officer after seeing what happened to these brave men,” said the officers’ supervisor at the time, Dan Jago.
The defense is arguing Woodard’s violent and chaotic childhood gave him no chance to lead a productive life.