After deliberating only five minutes, a jury acquitted a man charged with first-degree manslaughter in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma County judge who heard the case said the verdict was among the most quickly returned he has ever seen.
The defendant, William Charles Dismuke, 28, was accused of first-degree manslaughter after the stabbing death of Martez Hollins after a New Year's Eve party on January 1, 2009. There were no witnesses who reported seeing the stabbing, and Dismuke was only a suspect because people had reported seeing the two men fighting earlier in the evening.
According to Dismuke's lawyer, his client was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. "My client walked into the middle of a big gang fight. The only reason he was charged was because at some point he was in close proximity to the victim," said the defense lawyer.
Witnesses statements and other evidences showed that several fights broke out after the party at the Kings of Nightlife Studio in Oklahoma City. Security guards said that there were over 300 people at the party, and Dismuke's attorney pointed out that there were over a hundred people in proximity to the victim.
During the fighting gunshots were fired, and initial reports about Oklahoma City's first homicide of 2009 reported that Hollins was shot to death. One local news report from the day of the murder stated that police admitted "loud noise and crowded conditions inside the club have made it difficult to find a witness who really saw what happened to Hollins."
Even the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted the case said that the evidence in Dismuke's manslaughter trial was circumstantial. The jury did not find that there was enough evidence to convict Dismuke of manslaughter in Hollins's death, and returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating only a few minutes. William Dismuke was free on bail while awaiting his trial.
Read more stories on Oklahoma cases here.