Cape Girardeau man ordered to stand trial in murder case

Friday, October 19, 2012
Steven Lee Williams

A witness to a fatal September shooting on Cape Girardeau's south side described a merciless killing of an unarmed man in testimony at a preliminary hearing Thursday at the county courthouse in Jackson.

After testimony from several witnesses, Judge Gary Kamp ordered Steven Lee Williams, 34, bound over for trial.

Williams is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Darcus T. Purl.

The preliminary hearing determined the state had shown enough probable cause for legal proceedings to continue.

Williams is alleged to have shot Purl to death on the night of Sept. 20 after an altercation near the corner of South Ranney Avenue and Locust Street. He is being held at the Cape Girardeau County Jail in lieu of a $2 million bond and is being represented by public defender Amy Commean.

Williams sat chained while Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle presented four witnesses, the first being Dr. Russell Deidiker, a forensic pathologist who performed Purl's autopsy.

Deidiker said Purl's death was the result of damage to the chest and abdomen caused by multiple gunshots.

"I believe there were seven to eight shots fired into Mr. Purl," Deidiker said. "There were several entrance and exit wounds in his body, in areas that, besides the chest and abdomen, included his right forearm, left knee, right calf, a buttock and his left hand. His left hand had multiple defects caused by gunfire and exiting bone fragments to the extent that I can't determine if he had been shot there more than once."

Commean asked Deidiker on cross examination if there had been more than one type of bullet, or gun, that had been used in the shooting. Deidiker said he couldn't speak to the question properly.

Swingle then called Georgia Towson, girlfriend and the mother of two children with Purl who was present at the time of the shooting.

"Darcus and me had been out with the kids," she said. "We had bought some pizzas to cook, and Darcus told me to call him when they were ready. After I called him to come over and eat, it took about 20 or 30 minutes for him to arrive. After we ate, Darcus and me went outside to have a smoke at the side of the house.

"It was close to nine o'clock at night, and Darcus and me was just talking. That's when I saw Steven Williams come out from the back of the house. He and Darcus started yelling at each other and Steven pulled out a gun and started shooting. Darcus didn't have a gun to protect himself with."

Swingle asked Cowson what happened next.

"Darcus started to run," she said emotionally, "and Williams went after him. Darcus fell in the street and Steven unloaded the clip into him. Then he kicked him in the head two or three times."

Cowson said that at least five shots were fired during the incident, and Williams fled the scene before she heard two more shots fired. She added that she didn't see anyone else but Williams running away.

Swingle asked Cowson if she was positive that it was Williams who had shot Purl.

"Positive," she replied.

Under cross-examination, Commean asked Cowson what she did after the first shot was fired.

"I started hollering and screaming for help," Cowson answered.

Patrolman Brian Blanner of the Cape Girardeau Police Department was asked by Swingle what he saw at the crime scene.

"I saw the victim and knelt down to ask him who had shot him," Blanner said. "But his speech was labored and garbled and I couldn't make out what he was trying to say. I next spoke to Georgia Cowson who told me that Steven Williams had done the shooting."

Blanner added that he looked for evidence and located eight 9 mm shell casings. Under cross-examination, he was asked if he found a gun at the crime scene. Blanner replied that he did not.

Swingle then called Patrolman Kerry Dunavan, who testified that he had been en route to the crime scene when a subject got his attention in the 900 block of South Sprigg Street.

"The subject indicated to me, 'He's in here!'" Dunavan said. "Apparently, Williams had broken into the subject's home. I entered the home with my partner and we found Williams. He stated that he'd been shot. He also had a gun, a 9 mm automatic pistol. The gun was checked and it was empty. Williams also had a wound to the inside of his left knee and also above it."

During cross-examination, Dunavan was asked if he questioned Williams as to who had shot him. Dunavan said that Williams told him it was Ray, Iesha and Darcus Purl.

Williams was treated at a Cape Girardeau hospital for his wounds and taken into police custody when he was released.

At the end of testimony, Judge Kamp announced that the court had found sufficient probable cause for Williams to be bound over for arraignment scheduled for Oct. 29.


Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO.

South Ranney Avenue and Locust Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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