Crickets from the usual agitators.
Four teenagers charged in the alleged gang rape of a 13-year-old girl will face trial, an El Paso County judge ruled Thursday at the conclusion of a multiday hearing.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry found that evidence was strong enough to try Jacolby Williams, 20, Clarence Williams, 18, Tommy Williams, 19, and Tyron Williams, 18, on suspicion of sex assault on a child.
Two other co-defendants weren’t present at the hearings. A 16-year-old boy accused of participating in the sexual assault has been cited in a juvenile petition and will be prosecuted in separate proceedings, and James Williams, 19, waived his right to an evidentiary review by McHenry in favor of a dispositional hearing – sometimes a sign that a guilty plea is in the works.
Thursday’s ruling marked the culmination of a four-part preliminary hearing marked by contentious questioning and conflict among family members of those involved.
Relatives on both sides of the case sometimes called out from the gallery as attorneys sparred over the victim’s changing descriptions of how the assault unfolded or when discussions turned to trenchant details of the sex acts the girl said were involved.
McHenry stopped testimony on Feb. 4 – Day 3 – after an outburst in which some attendees left court and others rushed after, as if headed for a confrontation. A series of heated exchanges in the hallway stopped short of turning physical, though members on each side of the case were barred from re-entering the courtroom for the day.
Some of the defendants were also repeatedly admonished by deputies not to communicate with each other or members of the audience.
Despite sharing the same last name, the defendants aren’t all related, attorneys said.
Jacolby Williams, Tyron Williams and the 16-year-old are brothers. Tommy Williams and Clarence Williams are brothers and James Williams is their cousin.
The five adult defendants face the potential of up to life in prison under Colorado’s stringent sex-offense laws, which allow prisons to hold sex offenders beyond their sentence, up to life, until they pass stringent sex-offender treatment while in custody.
Many defense attorneys call “indeterminate” sex-offender sentencing a de facto life sentence, though prosecutors dispute their characterization, saying people have been released under the sentencing scheme.
The girl, whose name is being withheld, told detectives she was held down and raped Dec. 19 in a darkened bedroom during a visit to an apartment belonging to Jacolby Williams, an acquaintance she knew as Kurse. She said all six teens were involved, though she couldn’t clearly identify them.