He said it. She was, in fact, a Muslim; what he meant was that she wasn’t a good enough Muslim for him, and thus for her sins she deserved death. But of course as we all know, the fault lies not with him, but with those who dare report his words. “Murder conviction for Albany man in wife slaying,” by Robert Gavin for the Albany Times-Union, January 17 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
A jury spent roughly an hour and 10 minutes Friday to convict Robert Williams of murdering his wife in her West Hill home last spring.
The panel of nine women and three men quickly rejected the arguments of Williams’ attorney, Michael Jurena, who admitted Williams killed his wife but claimed it was first-degree manslaughter, not second-degree murder.
That charge would have brought a maximum of 25 years in prison for Williams, 41, a convicted sex offender. He now faces 25 years to life for the murder conviction at his March 7 sentencing.
Sharene Wallace, 37, known as Sakina, was stabbed more than 30 times in the neck inside 279 Sherman St. between May 26 and May 29. Her body was found stuffed in a closet. Williams, who fled to New York City before his arrest, admitted killing his new bride to friends and spoke at length to Albany police.
Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi said Williams believed Wallace was cheating on him, but killed his wife because he objected to her behavior in their Muslim community.
“I think it’s clear the defendant felt slighted by Sharene,” Rossi told jurors. “He may regret where he sits today. He does not regret what he did.”
He played the jury part of Williams’ videotaped interview with police. A detective showed Williams a photo of Wallace and referred to the victim as a Muslim woman. In turn, Williams responded: “Muslim woman? If she was a Muslim woman none of this (expletive) would even exist.”
Rossi said Williams took his wife’s cellphone and text-messaged naked pictures of her to all her contacts making it appear that Wallace sent out the pictures herself.
One text said: “I’m so evil I tried to contract AIDS and give it to my loving and caring husband.”
Another text said: “This is me, Sheitan,” a word for the devil.
Another text stated: “I’m sorry everyone but I pretend like I’m a Muslim when in all reality I’m a (prostitute) and I represent Satan.”
Uh, yeah, I think maaaaaaaybe Williams sent those himself.
An incredulous Rossi told the jury, “We’re supposed to believe Sharene sent that herself? Really?”
Jurors began deliberating around 12:20 p.m. They reached their verdict by 2:30 p.m. And that did not include periods in which the panel was back in the courtroom of Judge Andrew Ceresia for notes. The actual time of deliberation was estimated at one hour and 10 minutes.
In his closing argument, Jurena told the jury Williams killed his wife because of an “extreme emotional disturbance.” Such a condition is an affirmative defense in New York state against a murder charge, allowing juries the option to consider manslaughter.
Jurena told the jury his client became emotionally devastated when he learned his wife was receiving text messages of other men’s genitals. He admitted Williams killed Wallace, but said Wallace came at his client with knives and that his client was drunk.
“This is not a ‘whodunit’ kind of case,” Jurena said. “I don’t usually agree with prosecutors that they’ve proved parts of their case. I usually disagree with everything, but in his case it’s obvious. And there is no dispute.”
But he said the killing “” which he accidentally called a “murder” at one point “” was not premeditated.
“He didn’t wake up one morning going over there saying, ‘Hey “” I’m gonna go kill my wife.’ ”
Rossi’s final words to the jury came from a videotape of Williams speaking to Albany police, saying, “This is not one of those instances where the truth will set you free.”