District Attorney's Office


  

Conasauga Judicial Circuit of Georgia




   Serving Murray & Whitfield Counties

CRAIG’S LIST DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY

June 2, 2017 (Dalton) – David Wayne Williams (48), Donna Gail Warren (51), and Jerry Wade Warren (50), of Rome, Georgia entered guilty pleas to charges arising out of the April 26, 2016 armed robbery and attempted murder of Mayra Espitia following the group's response to a Craig’s List advertisement. Williams entered guilty pleas to attempted murder and to possession of a knife during the commission of a crime and received the maximum possible sentence of 30 years to serve in prison without the possibility of parole followed by 5 years on probation on the weapon charge. The Warrens, who are siblings, entered guilty pleas to robbery. Donna Warren received a sentence of 10 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation. Jerry Warren received 5 years in prison without the possibility of parole based on his prior criminal record, followed by 5 years on probation. All three sentences carried conditions including that they not return to Whitfield or Murray County, not have any contact with the victim or her husband and that they pay restitution to the Georgia Crime Victim Compensation Fund which had previously reimbursed the victim for her medical expenses.

Prior to the attack on Mrs. Espitia, Williams had contacted her husband about a truck the couple had listed for sale on Craig’s List, a classified ad website. Arrangements had been made for Williams to come see the truck but he had not shown up at the scheduled time. Instead, he and the Warrens drove up from Rome when Mr. Espitia was at work, and while the Warrens remained in Donna Warren’s vehicle, Williams approached the residence and began speaking to the victim about the truck. Ultimately he convinced the victim to enter the residence to retrieve the truck title and then followed her inside and attacked her with a large knife that he had concealed on his person. Mrs. Espitia fought back but was severely injured including multiple stab and slash wounds to the neck area and extending up to her chin, plus injuries to her arm and torso received during the struggle. Eventually Williams fled from the residence and stole the truck and was followed back to Rome by the Warrens. The following morning, prior to their arrest, the truck was sold in Cedartown, Georgia and Donna Warren shared in the proceeds from the sale. Williams was on his way to pay Jerry Warren his share when he was arrested by Detective Corey Bowers with the Rome Police Department with assistance from the Floyd County Police Department and the United States Marshall Service, all three agencies having responded to a call for assistance from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office. Williams was tracked to a residence in Rome in large part because during the struggle with the victim he dropped his wallet including his identification. Williams high-speed departure alerted a neighbor that something was wrong and the neighbor, Matthew Parrish, responded and provided aid to Mrs. Espitia until law enforcement and emergency medical services could arrive. As first aid was being provided, one of the deputies noticed the wallet and Mrs. Espitia was able to identify her attacker from his driver’s license before being transported to Hamilton Medical Center for surgery. After his arrest, Williams made a detailed confession to lead case agent Detective Danny Headrick of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office. The Warrens made statements admitting they were present but denying that they knew before or after the events what Williams had intended or had actually done.

Because Williams’ confession to police implicated the Warrens, the District Attorney’s Office would have been unable to prosecute all three defendants in one trial. In order to convict the Warrens, it would have been necessary to try them first and to reach an agreement with Williams for him to testify against them. There would have been insufficient evidence to prove they were involved, other than having just been present in the car, without Williams’ assistance and neither the District Attorney nor the victim wished to make any deal with Williams in exchange for his testimony. Plea agreements were ultimately reached on the Warrens in order to get their cases resolved so that full resources could be devoted to the prosecution of Williams, who faced life without parole if convicted at trial. However, after the Warrens entered their pleas, Williams' attorney advised the District Attorney that Williams no longer wished to have a trial. Mrs. Espitia was present in court for all three guilty pleas and supported the disposition in the case. An agreement was reached as to Williams and he entered his plea after the Warrens were sentenced. The plea allowed the victim and her husband to move on with their lives and put this behind them rather than having to go through a trial and the lengthy appeals process that would have followed. The sentence as to Williams also insures that he will be 77 years old if he lives that long before he is released from prison and hopefully by that time not physically able to be a threat to anyone.

The District Attorney’s Office extends its thanks and appreciation on behalf of the victim and her family to the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and to the other law enforcement agencies who helped bring this investigation to a swift conclusion and successful prosecution.

Bert Poston
District Attorney
Conasauga Judicial Circuit


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Bert Poston,
District Attorney


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