Suspect, victim in Cape shooting fatality each had criminal past, records show

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Steven Williams

The Cape Girardeau man charged in the shooting death of Darcus T. Purl last week already had a criminal record that dated back more than a decade, a review of court records revealed Wednesday, including convictions for assaulting a police officer, disregarding protection orders and at least two counts of domestic assault.

In fact, when Steven Lee Williams, 34, was arrested Sept. 20 and charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action, he had only been released from jail for about two weeks after serving 30 days for third-degree domestic assault.

The victim in that incident, in which Williams pleaded guilty, was Georgia Cowson -- the woman who told police she saw Williams shoot Purl as he was walking away rather than have a confrontation. Williams continued, Cowson said, to shoot until he "unloaded the clip" at Purl and then walk over to his dying body and kick him.

Williams is being held at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on $2 million bond and has a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 18.

Cowson, who could not be reached Wednesday, also told police she was romantically involved with Purl at the time of the shooting, but that she had previously been in a relationship with Williams.

Darcus Purl

Purl's family members Wednesday said they were angry about the circumstances surrounding his death. Joe L. Harris, Purl's brother, said that he really didn't even know Williams, but he hoped the justice system would be swift and firm.

"I didn't know that man before this happened," Harris said. "But I'm sure upset, especially having to read in the newspaper that he was kicking Darcus in the head after he was down. That just made me more angry. I hope he gets the max."

Iesha Purl, a niece who had allowed her uncle to live with her, said that Williams had been unable to admit that it was over between he and Cowson. Williams, who lived nearby, would give Purl a "lot of trouble," Iesha Purl said. "He'd pull a gun out just to show him. He was actually hiding in the bushes the day that my uncle and Georgia were talking before the shooting. He was obsessed. I really believe that's what it was. Because Darcus wasn't confrontational at all."

Still, Purl had his own run-ins with the law. Purl was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 2000 guilty plea to drug possession with intent to distribute. Purl originally was put on probation for that felony, but a judge revoked it Nov. 3, 2005, and sentenced him to prison after repeated violations that included failing to complete Teen Challenge, abandoning his community service and for positive drug screenings.

Sometime after his release, Purl again pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property for accepting a blank check that he tried to cash at a bank in Jackson. The sentence was suspended and Purl was placed on supervised probation, but it was revoked again for use of marijuana and cocaine, failure to appear in court and leaving fines and court cost unpaid. He was ordered on June 11, 2011, to serve his full 12 months and was released earlier this year.

Iesha Purl acknowledged that her uncle had some problems but that he was getting his act together and planning a life with Cowson. But it was Williams who had the more violent offenses, including a violation of a protection order in 2002 that, at one point, had Williams head butting a Cape Girardeau police officer after threatening to kill himself and begging officers to do it for him.

Williams had been involved with a woman who was getting a divorce. The husband filed an order of protection against Williams after he allegedly made threats against the husband. Williams was arrested and cited several times for disregarding what is commonly called an ex parte, landing him in the county jail for 30- and 60-day stints.

When he was arrested at one point, police reports say that Williams went wild, fighting officers as they attempted to get him inside the police department headquarters on South Sprigg Street. As one officer attempted to get him into a holding room, Williams head-butted the officer, chipping three of his teeth and getting Williams a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a law-enforcement officer.

A counselor's report from that day also notes that Williams had claimed to have attempted suicide before, including trying to overdose, drown and to jump off a roof. During their session, the counselor noted that Williams had ripped open his shirt and threatened to hang himself with it.

The court records also say that Williams also once served a week in jail for disobeying a subpoena by not showing up to testify in court against his sister's ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend had been facing charges for trying to shoot Williams, then 25, and his sister as they sat on the porch of their south Cape Girardeau home.

No lawyer was yet listed in court records for Williams on Wednesday. Williams, who has been ruled indigent, was still in jail on a $2 million bond.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau, MO

216 North Missouri Street, Jackson, MO 63755

Map of pertinent addresses

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