North Charleston double-murder trial ends in second mistrial
Mary Ferguson didn’t think it would come to this. For the second time in a year, she watched a jury dismissed without an answer on whether the man accused of killing her sister and her sister’s boyfriend is guilty.
“We had hope it would end,” she said.
Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington declared a mistrial Friday afternoon after jurors sent a note stating they were deadlocked for a second time that day in the case against Rick Morrocco Williams.
Williams is charged with two counts of murder in the 2010 killings of 44-year-old Angie Ferguson and 58-year-old Nathaniel Lonnie.
Last February, another judge declared a mistrial in the case after a juror did not disclose certain information during jury selection.
“I don’t think I’ve had a defendant with two mistrials in a row,” Harrington said in court before explaining to Williams that his case would be put back on the trial docket a third time.
The jury was close to a conviction, according to 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson. “We were very fortunate that many of the jurors wanted to talk to us after,” she said. “They were very much in our favor.”
Wilson would not comment on whether the jury was leaning toward a verdict of murder or voluntary manslaughter.
Angie Ferguson’s daughter, who would not give her name, said she believes Williams had every intention of killing her mother on the night of Dec. 31, 2010.
But Williams testified Thursday that he killed the couple in self-defense inside the couple’s apartment at 2110 Durant Ave., North Charleston.
Williams was living with his girlfriend; her stepfather, Lonnie; and his girlfriend, Angie Ferguson, at the time of the killings.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on several parts of this case: Lonnie kicked Williams out of the house after an argument. Williams used a bat to pummel Lonnie’s van before Lonnie chased him away with a sword. Williams returned to the home that night.
But it is at this juncture where the versions of this story change. Prosecutors told the jury Williams acted with intent and “executed two people” when he shot both of them in their heads that night. Williams’ defense attorney, Beattie Butler, argued that Williams had to make a choice: their life or his.
“He is not a cold-blooded killer. He’s not a stone-cold murderer,” Butler said during his closing statements.
Williams said Lonnie came at him with a sword after the two fought inside the home when he returned to pick up his belongings. Williams shot him in the forehead, according to prosecutors.
Williams told the jury Ferguson then came at him with a box cutter and he shot her in the side of the head.
Assistant Solicitor Michael Nelson disputed that a scuffle occurred inside the home, pointing to a photo of a television stand with DVDs that had not been knocked over. “There is nothing in that house that says self-defense,” Nelson said.
No box cutter was found inside the house and the sword was not found near Lonnie’s body, Nelson told the jury. But the information provided by both sides wasn’t enough to convince an entire jury of Williams’ guilty or innocence in this case.
Mary Ferguson wiped away a tear as she walked toward the courthouse elevators following the trial. But she says she’ll be back if there’s a third trial. “Whatever we have to do to end this, we’ll do it.”Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.