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Charles Andrew Williams Arraigned on Murder Charges

Aired March 7, 2001 - 4:53 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bringing back our viewers now to what is going on in Southern California at this hour. We are awaiting the arraignment of Charles Andrew Williams, the 15-year-old accused in the high school shootings on Monday.

Standing by for us as well, in our Washington bureau, is legal analyst Roger Cossack.

Roger, you advised us earlier not to expect a lot of information to come out of this.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. What you'll hear, what you'll, what we'll see is the young man being brought into court. He will be represented by counsel. The court, the judge will ask him some questions, will read him some rights, perhaps will even ask him how he pleads, guilty or not guilty, and it'll be over almost before it begins.

I'm looking at this courtroom right now, Joie, and thinking of the many courtrooms that I stood in, waiting around, waiting for the proceedings to start. This is a particularly sad one, though.

CLERK: ... the Honorable Herbert J. Exarhos, judge presiding. Please be seated and come to order.

JUDGE HERBERT J. EXARHOS, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. In the matter of the people of the state of California versus Charles Andrew Williams. Counsel, your appearances please.

KRISTIN ANTON, CHIEF DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Kristin Anton, on behalf of the people.

RANDY MIZE, DEPUTY PUBLIC DEFENDER: Your Honor, good afternoon. Randy Mize, deputy public defender on behalf of Andy Williams, who's present in custody before the court.

EXARHOS: All right, and with you?

MIZE: Your Honor, this is Mr. Ronald Bubble (ph), also with the public defender's office, who will be assisting in the case.

EXARHOS: And with you, Ms. Anton?

ANTON: Your Honor, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), district attorney investigator.

EXARHOS: All right. Ms. Anton, are you ready to proceed in this arraignment matter?

ANTON: Yes, Your Honor. At this time the people would file, with this court, a 28-count complaint against defendant Charles Andrew Williams, date of birth, February 8, 1986.

The people are filing 28 counts, two of them murder, the first two counts charge the defendant with murder with gun allegations pursuant to 12022.53, as well as special circumstances pursuant to penal code 190.2.

The remaining counts are 13 counts of attempted murder, premeditated attempted murder, all with the gun allegations, again pursuant to penal code section 12022.53. The remaining counts are 245, assault with a firearm charges, again with the attendant gun allegations.

We are filing this complaint in this court pursuant to welfare and institutions code 602-B, which mandates that the case be filed in the adult court due to the fact that the defendant committed "special circumstance" murder, and that he personally killed the victims in these crimes.

EXARHOS: All right. Mr. Mize, first of all, are you satisfied that the defendant is entitled to the services of the public defender.

MIZE: Your Honor, that's correct.

EXARHOS: And what have you done to, to satisfy yourself of that fact? I mean, in what way is he entitled?

MIZE: Your Honor, the man is 15 years of age. He has no financial means of his own. I have talked to his father who has a very tight financial situation.

EXARHOS: Have you advised the defendant of his Constitutional rights?

MIZE: Your Honor, I've advised Andy Williams of all his constitutional trial rights.

EXARHOS: And has he executed the form to that effect?

MIZE: Your Honor, I do not believe he has.

EXARHOS: All right. I'll have you do that later, so I can add it to the file.

MIZE: Thank you.

EXARHOS: Now, the, are you ready to proceed with the arraignment, Mr. Mize?

MIZE: Your Honor, we received the copy of the complaint earlier today. It is about 23 pages. Obviously, we're here in adult court, so the D.A. intends to file this case against this 15-year-old young man in adult criminal court.

If we arraign him today under penal code section 1004, I or my office might be precluded at a later date from contemplating a demur. Based on the allegations I see in this large document and based on the fact that this is being filed in adult criminal court, my office would like to look at it more closely to make a decision if a demur is appropriate.

So, I'm asking the court to continue this matter today in order that we can make the decision whether or not we are going to file a demur. So, I'd be asking for approximately two weeks to continue the arraignment for those purposes.

EXARHOS: Ms. Anton, do you wish to respond to that request?

ANTON: Yes, Your Honor. The people would object to the request for the continuance for the purposes of filing the demur. Clearly the court has jurisdiction in this case to hear this matter, pursuant to penal code section -- excuse me, Welfare and Institutions code, section 602-B.

This is a mandatory filing. This isn't a discretionary filing which was the subject of the demur in the previous case in our jurisdiction. This is a completely different section. It's mandated by, by the, the code.

EXARHOS: As I understand it, you are saying, basically, that you do not feel that he has grounds for the demur, but you do not seem to be contesting the fact that he may be precluded from bringing that demur if he were to proceed with the arraignment today.

ANTON: That's true.

EXARHOS: Is that a fair statement?

ANTON: Yes, Your honor.

EXARHOS: All right.

Because the arraignment may conceivably prevent the defendant from bringing that demur without passing any type of judgment or expressing any opinion as to the merits of the demur, they are entitled to the, to the continuance.

The, statutorily, the defendant is entitled to an arraignment, or actually, he's entitled to be brought before the magistrate. That requirement has been satisfied. Are there any other statutory rights that would apply at this time, that he would have to waive in order to continue the arraignment for two weeks?

Ms. Anton?

ANTON: Not that I'm aware of. EXARHOS: None that I'm aware of. Since it is his motion, I don't need any specific time wavers. Do you agree with that, Mr. Mize?

MIZE: I do agree with that.

EXARHOS: All right. Might I suggest Monday, March 26th, at 1:30 p.m.? Is that agreeable to both calendars of both counsel?

ANTON: Yes, your Honor.

MIZE: Yes, your Honor.

EXARHOS: All right. This matter, the motion to continue is granted. This arraignment is continued until Monday, March 26th, at 1:30 p.m. in this department. Are there any other issues that need to be addressed at this time, counsel?

ANTON: Just for the record, your Honor, the issue of bail should be addressed.

EXARHOS: All right. As I understand section, penal code section 1270.5, he is not entitled to bail because of the nature of the charges, most specifically the "special circumstances." Do you wish to be heard on the matter of bail, Mr. Mize?

MIZE: No, your Honor. I'd submit and ask that if it comes up that we reserve it for a later date.

EXARHOS: All right. Based on the language of penal code section 1270.5 and the allegations as to the special circumstances, the court finds that the defendant is not entitled to, to bail with -- without prejudice to the defendant to raise the issue hereafter.

Anything further before we recess?

MIZE: No, your honor.

EXARHOS: Thank you, counsel. We are in recess.

MIZE: Thank you.

ANTON: Thank you.

CHEN: The arraignment for Charles Andrew Williams over quickly, less than 10 minutes from the time the defendant entered the courtroom until right now as he leaves it. Standing by for us in our Washington bureau is CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack.

Roger, you predicted earlier that there might well be a continuance in this arraignment proceeding, but explain to us why.

COSSACK: What the defense counsel said was, I would like more time, because I -- what he's saying is, I'd like to prepare my plea. Now we heard the word demur. Demur is a legal term that means that I would like to review the charges that are filed against my client to see whether or not accepting them on their face they have stated a cause of action. Quite obviously, most of the time they have.

What he's talking about here is an examination of the charges pursuant to this Prop 21 that we've been talking about which mandates that this defendant -- this Williams -- be tried as an adult, taking away all discretion from the judge in this matter. There may be a challenge that the defense would like to raise on this, saying that perhaps, as applied, it is unconstitutional. That would be a long shot to say the least, but nevertheless, this is a very serious crime.

So, what the defense counsel did, and rightfully so, was say, judge, we just need a couple more weeks, give us an opportunity to look at the charges, give us an opportunity to review the law and then we'll be back.

CHEN: We heard procedurally that they went ahead and denied the bail, given the serious nature of the charges. Given the fact that this is still a suspect -- the defendant in this case, not someone who's been convicted. Will he be kept in an adult population at this point?

COSSACK: No, he will be kept in a juvenile facility. He will not get bail. Statutorily, he is prohibited from getting bail because of the charges, but he will not be intermingled with adult prisoners at this time. He will be kept in a juvenile authority. And I might say that, even if he's convicted, he will be kept in a separate California youth authority facility up until he's at least 18.

CHEN: Roger Cossack for us in our Washington bureau.

We want to go now to Southern California to Santee, California and Santana High School. That's where CNN's Casey Wian is standing by now -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, we just listened to that arraignment. We saw the suspect looking down most of the time, looking up occasionally. He looked like a terrified young man. Joining me now is one of his schoolmates and her name is Shannon Durette.

Shannon, tell me first of all, what is your reaction to seeing the fact that one of your classmates or schoolmates was just arraigned on murder charges -- just arraigned on murder charges in an adult court. What do you think about that?

SHANNON DURETTE, SANTANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: It's shocking, I knew Andy and he was very nice and someone you never expect to do it. And when I saw him walking down the hall in handcuffs, that was hard, because I knew he was not the kind of person that would ever do this, so it's weird.

WIAN: What was today like, the first day back at school?

DURETTE: My first class was not that bad, because nobody was in it that was affected by it that much. My third block class, which was PE, Andy was in it so that was harder. And my fourth block class is Brian Zuckor -- I think his last name was, he was in that class, so that was harder.

WIAN: What did the teachers say?

DURETTE: My PE teacher was crying a lot. She was very upset. She had some of the students that died in the past. So that was hard for her, and my fourth block teacher; he was pretty upset by it too, because he had gotten a relationship with Brian and just lost him, so...

WIAN: We saw prayer services outside the school today, heard counselors were on campus today. Did you participate in any of those types of things?

DURETTE: The prayer service; I was participating in that. That was -- I liked that a lot. That was fun. I talked to some counselors today as well. And, they helped. They were good, so that was cool.

WIAN: There was a sheriff's presence which I imagine was very unusual for your campus. What was that like having sheriff's deputies on the campus?

DURETTE: They weren't getting in the way or anything. It was kind of weird to see them. But it's kind of normal now, seeing how our school looks. I mean, I'm used to it.

WIAN: Shannon Durette, thank you very much for your time.

Joie, back to you.

CHEN: CNN's Casey Wian for us in Santee, California.



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