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Figure in '92 Riots Convicted of Murder

May 03, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Damian "Football" Williams, who was imprisoned for four years for beating truck driver Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots, was convicted Friday of second-degree murder.

Williams faces a maximum of 35 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 13.

In a written statement, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley called it a "long and difficult case," but said he was "gratified that the jury carefully and fully reviewed the evidence in reaching its verdicts."

"I am pleased that justice was served in this case," Cooley said.

Defense attorney Edi M.O. Faal said his client's reputation since the Denny beating unfairly swayed jurors. "Of course, they took into account his prior notoriety," Faal said. "They were taking into account factors that they should not have taken into account. I believe there are many grounds for a new trial."

The prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas Rubinson, said he does not believe jurors were influenced by the Denny case. "With my discussions with the jury, no one raised that issue at all," he said.

Williams was convicted in 1993 of mayhem and assault for attacking Denny at Florence and Normandie avenues during the Los Angeles riots. Rioters pulled Denny from his truck and beat him. Television news cameras caught Williams as he threw a brick that struck Denny. He was sentenced to eight years, and paroled in 1997.

Grover Tinner, 43, was shot and killed in July 2000 after an argument with Williams at a drug house in Los Angeles. Co-defendant Tyrone David "T" Killingsworth, who was the triggerman, also was found guilty of second-degree murder. Witnesses told police that Tinner was shot from behind as he left the house.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry declared a mistrial on burglary charges, and jurors acquitted Williams and Killingsworth of robbery. Killingsworth could be sentenced to 70 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

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