Alexandria woman gets 12 1/2 years in prison for stabbing death
While sobbing almost uncontrollably, Darlene Williams of Alexandria apologized profusely to the court during her sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon before receiving her sentence from Judge Ann Carrott.
Williams, 45, was charged with stabbing her 47-year-old boyfriend, Delvaine Hecker, to death on November 28, 2007. In September of this year, she pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree.
On Wednesday, December 17, Judge Carrott, after accepting Williams' plea from September 18, found her guilty of second-degree unintentional murder and sentenced Williams to spend 150 months - or 12 and one-half years - in prison.
Carrott ordered Williams to serve a minimum of 100 months - a little more than eight years - with supervised probation not to exceed 50 months after that.
Her time can be extended if the need is warranted, the judge noted, especially if there is bad behavior. Williams will receive credit for time already served.
Prior to handing down the sentence, Carrott said she read through all the materials related to the case and watched all the videos from when Williams was questioned about the incident, and the video of when Williams was told she was responsible for Hecker's death.
"If you watch that video, it is a chilling response," said Carrott. "There was a strong bond between Williams and Mr. Hecker."
Carrot also noted that Williams did something incredibly wrong and for that, there were consequences. However, she also said, "Nothing I do will bring back the individual that has been killed."
The families involved - both the defendant's and the victim's - have been traumatized by this case, the judge said, adding that there is nothing good about the whole situation.
"This was an unacceptable act of violence and the tragedy is irrevocable," she said. "She stabbed someone with a large knife and she has to face the consequences."
While addressing Williams, Carrott told her, "I hope you take the time spent in incarceration to address your issues with alcohol and drugs, and I hope you put an effort into keeping a relationship with your [14-year-old] son."
Previously, Carrott stated that Williams' son was a stand-up kid, who was close to his mother and that despite certain circumstances he was brought up extremely well.
"She has done well by her son and this will be difficult for both of them to be separated," said the judge. "I hope they work hard to stay connected."
Before the judge handed down Williams' sentence, she asked Williams if she had anything to say.
Through tears, Williams said, "I apologize. Tell the family I am sorry. I wasn't trying to kill him. It just happened. I want to apologize. I had to do what I did. I made a mistake."
She told the court she wants to be with her son and asked for the court not to take him away from her.
"I am truly, truly sorry for what I did," said Williams. "I would do anything to bring him back. He was a good man. I am sorry. I loved that man."
During the sentencing hearing, Douglas County Attorney Chris Karpan, who was the prosecuting attorney in the case, said that in a way, he almost felt sorry for Williams because she lost the love of her life. But he also noted that he felt sad and miserable for the victim's family because of their loss.
Karpan read excerpts from letters that were written from members of Hecker's family, who unfortunately, he said, couldn't attend the hearing because of the weather and car troubles.
He said that Hecker's father, stepmother, all of his brothers and Hecker's mother were grief-stricken by the loss of Hecker, who was a wonderful musician and a good man.
Some of the statements from family members were:
"He always treated me with respect. It's a shame that the pain of losing a child will never go away - ask my husband." - from his stepmother.
"He was always laughing, always happy. Now that's gone and I miss him. He is always on my mind." - from his father, Ernest.
"There is not enough paper to express my feelings. I shared my life with my brother." - from his brother, Kevin.
"This has affected our whole family immensely. I am sick to my stomach and that will never go away." - from his brother, Dean, who signed his letter, "Forever in grief."
Karpan told the court that it was heartbreaking to read the letters from Hecker's family.
When talking about the incident, the county attorney said Williams' motive was anger and frustration, not fear. She was not afraid of him, he said.
In an e-mailed response after the sentencing hearing, Karpan said, "This is an example of where years of chemical abuse in a dysfunctional relationship and a casual attitude toward violence as a problem-solving tool can lead. Eventually, that lifestyle becomes a standard of normalcy and taken to the extreme, this is what can happen.
"A healthy person would have never dreamed of pulling a knife in an argument like this, but in this relationship, I don't think Ms. Williams thought twice about it. This never should have happened and Delvaine Hecker should still be here," he concluded.
What her attorney said...
After the state's attorney addressed the court, Rex Tucker, a public defender who was representing Williams, spoke to the court.
He reiterated that Williams cared and loved Hecker and that the whole incident "grabs at your heart and soul."
When watching the video questioning, Tucker said, Williams fell apart and screamed in agony when she was told that she caused Hecker's death. The video, he added, shows that there was much remorse on Williams' part.
"I don't know how to explain the price of pain she is feeling," said Tucker. "He [Hecker] had his demons, but she loved him. He was fun."
In his opinion, however, Tucker said that Hecker was not the person he normally was when he drank. He called him aggressive and not the same fun-loving guy.
He believes there was abuse in the relationship and even during the night of the stabbing, but Tucker always said that it was not an excuse for what happened.
"It wasn't self-defense," he said. "But it [the abuse] shows that he was the aggressor."
When considering her sentencing, Tucker asked Judge Carrott to take into consideration that Williams felt deep heartfelt remorse; that she cooperated with police; that she didn't deny the stabbing; and that she doesn't have any prior criminal record.
"If she could do anything over again, she would redo the situation," Tucker said.
According to the criminal compliant filed in Douglas County District Court, here is what authorities believe took place in the early morning hours of November 28, 2007.
At 2:46 a.m., a 911 call came in to Douglas County dispatch from Williams. She told the dispatcher that she had stabbed her boyfriend.
When officers arrived on scene - Lot E1 in Olson's Mobile Park - they found Hecker sitting on a chair in the kitchen with a large pool of blood underneath him. He was non-responsive, but had a weak pulse and shallow breathing.
When Williams was taken outside and asked who stabbed Hecker, she blurted out, "I did."
During questioning, Williams explained that she was arguing with Hecker before the stabbing and was angry with him because he continually brought up issues from the past. Williams told investigators that she had gone into the bedroom to get away from Hecker.
He followed her and continued to bring up past issues. Williams then stood up and slapped him across the face. Hecker then left the bedroom.
Williams told investigators that Hecker came back into the bedroom and slapped her, at which point she grabbed the knife, stood up from the bed and stabbed him in the abdomen, according to the complaint.
Hecker left the bedroom and made his way on his own to the kitchen where he slumped over into a chair, which is where officers found him. Williams told authorities she waited a few minutes, checked his pulse, found it and then dialed 911.
Hecker was taken to the hospital, where he later died.