Authorities believe Daniel Lavale Williams of Graysville shot himself in the head with a .45-caliber handgun around noon Tuesday at Gay Reed Cemetery located off Alabama Highway 269 South in Jasper. Williams was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
He died late Tuesday afternoon.
Williams was on trial for the alleged role he played in a home invasion-style armed robbery and drive-by shooting that occurred in the Argo community in December 2007, in which three women were beaten and a man was shot.
Walker County Circuit Judge Jerry Selman said he learned that Williams had apparently shot himself from Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe around 1 p.m.
“Although these proceedings could have gone forward without the defendant being present, based on what we have learned the defendant will probably not survive his injuries,” Selman told the jurors when they were allowed to return to the courtroom around 2:30 p.m. following the initial lunch break and the hour or so delay. “In that respect, I have decided to declare a mistrial in this case and this court is now adjourned.”
Selman thanked the jurors for their service and had law enforcement personnel escort the victims and the jurors out of the courthouse as a safety precaution.
Prior to shooting himself, Williams reportedly apologized to one of the victims after he walked out of the courtroom for the lunch recess.
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said Selman, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, the Jasper Police Department and courthouse security were to be commended for the way they handled the situation.
“I know we were far enough along that the defendant no longer had to be present, but I understand why Judge Selman made the decision he made, and I’m OK with it,” Adair said. “But at the same time, I don’t want what happened to our victims in this case to get lost in the transparencies of what happened today.”
Adair said the victims and their family members involved in the incident will never get passed what happened to them in 2007. He also said today’s tragic event reiterates the need for better security in and around the Walker County Courthouse.
“Everyday when we come to work at the district attorney’s office, my life and the lives of the victims I represent and those of my employees could be put in danger,” Adair said. “I fully understand Judge Selman is doing everything he can to make things better, and he’s done a great job. But something more needs to be done, and I hope it happens before my next trial.”