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Jury Convicts Denny Defendants on Reduced Charges, Acquits on Others : Trial: Deliberations continue on two counts, including attempted murder of beating victim. Felony conviction against Damian Williams carries maximum eight-year term.

October 19, 1993|EDWARD J. BOYER and JESSE KATZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

After six acquittals had been delivered, along with six convictions, Ouderkirk asked the jurors if they wanted to continue deliberating on the remaining three counts. "We're deadlocked, your honor," said one juror, an older Latina, as the judge polled them individually. "We don't agree."

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Janet Moore noted that the jury, in its current form, had only deliberated 2 1/2 days. Ouderkirk sent them to lunch and told them to start again at 1:30 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m., the jury buzzed three times, indicating that it had reached a decision. One of the deadlocked counts against Williams--the robbery of Takao Hirata--was now an acquittal. The judge sent them back to deliberate one more time. About 3:20 p.m., they buzzed again.

"Hello again," Ouderkirk said. "You look like a tired group."

The jury forewoman announced that they were still deadlocked on two counts, including an attempted murder charge against Williams and a felony charge against Watson, for allegedly assaulting Larry Tarvin.

As the judge again polled them individually, Juror 324, one of just two men on the panel, came out shaking his head. "It's useless," said the juror, drawing chuckles from the courtroom. "There are 10 women in there."

After Ouderkirk sent them to the hotel where they are sequestered, Williams' mother--who had sprayed several reporters with a water bottle Monday morning--strolled down the hallway and proclaimed: "It's not over until the fat lady sings."

Shortly after the first verdicts were read about 11 a.m., Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Willie L. Williams went on television, urging the city to put the trial and the lingering anxieties from last year's riots in the past.

"Our judicial system is running its course," Riordan said. "Now is a time to look forward, not back--to look at what we can do for the future.

"I urge you to become a volunteer in the schools, the parks and the libraries; to bring a hot meal to a senior citizen you know; to visit a friend with AIDS; to organize your neighbors to make your neighborhood safer and cleaner," said the mayor, whose office received about 250 calls, almost all of them complaining that the defendants were treated too leniently.

Chief Williams, who called a tactical alert and put hundreds of additional officers on the streets as a hedge against possible unrest, said he was gratified by the calm that followed news of the verdicts.

"The reactions and the response of our community today have made me, as your new chief of police . . . very, very proud," Williams said.

At the home of defendant Damian Williams, around the corner from Florence and Normandie, police cars cruised by and helicopters buzzed the neighborhood.

But the dozen young men gathered there remained calm as word of the verdicts came down, as did the neighborhood. With bottles of juice, bags of chips and cans of Olde English 800 malt liquor, they exulted over the news, fielding congratulatory calls and welcoming a steady stream of well-wishers, who ranged from a congresswoman to the neighborhood plumber.

"It's a celebration," said Jimmy Williams, 22, a cousin of the defendant. Meanwhile, the defendant's brother, Mark Jackson, promised a massive block party when the last verdict is read.

"We have an opportunity for justice to prevail," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who stopped by to congratulate the group early in the afternoon. Her pleasure at the verdicts was echoed by Gwen Miller, whose son, Antoine Miller, is awaiting trial for his alleged role at Florence and Normandie.

"There is a God," said his mother, who had stopped by the Williams home with a load of "Free The LA 4" T-shirts.

At the Office of the Coalition Against Police Abuse, at 29th Street and Western Avenue, demonstrators who had been at the courthouse daily since the trial's start continued their protest with huge "Free the L.A. 4+" banners and placards saying "No more time, they did no crime."

In the mostly black and Latino neighborhood, rush-hour drivers honked intermittent support, but neighborhood residents seemed reluctant to join the march. Police cruised past periodically in unmarked cars.

The 20 or so demonstrators said they planned to continue their rally into the evening at a South-Central church. Refuse and Resist and the L.A. 4+ Defense Committee, two other organizations supporting the defendants, also joined the march.

While some residents were celebrating, others were seething, including a fair number of LAPD officers, who watched two former colleagues turn themselves into a federal prison last week for beating King.

"They bashed a man's head in, and now they're celebrating. Great," said one veteran police officer at Parker Center, the police headquarters.

At Transit Mixed Concrete Co. in Boyle Heights, where Denny worked, truck drivers reacted with similar outrage, calling the jury's decision "a big joke."

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