Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jury: Put Williams to death

Andy Meinen
Thursday February 14th, 2008

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A jury recommended the death penalty Friday for Kirk D. Williams, who was found guilty Thursday of murdering his girlfriend.

The jury’s recommendation is not binding. Walton County Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells will have the final say in Williams’ fate at a later date, when he can also sentence Williams to life in prison without parole.

Williams, 29, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder for beating 48-year-old Susan Dykes to death Oct. 3, 2006, with an aluminum T-ball bat in the bedroom of her mobile home. Williams then tied three concrete blocks to Dykes’ body and dumped her body in Lake Cassidy near the Holmes County line.

A camper found the corpse floating in the lake Oct. 7.

Family and friends of Dykes and Williams shared hugs, handshakes and tears in the courtroom after the 12-member jury recommended 11-1 that Williams be put to death. The jury’s advisory sentence only had to have a majority to pass.

Dykes’ family members declined to speak in court on Friday. Dykes’ son, Richard Hulett, said he chose not to speak out of respect for Williams’ family and what they are going through. Hulett, 30, said he felt a great deal of sorrow for them.

Dykes’ daughter, Jennifer Gess, agreed.

“I thought it was best to let his family speak,” she said.

But Gess plans to speak at a hearing April 1, when Wells will listen to arguments for and against the death penalty. Wells will then sentence Williams at a later date.

Williams’ attorneys, Jay Gontarek and Mike Flowers, called a forensic psychologist to discuss Williams’ state of mind during the weeks leading up to Dykes’ murder.

Dr. James Larson said that after evaluating Williams, he found him to be of average intelligence and free of any mental illness and psychological disorders. However, because Williams was on a crack cocaine binge during the murder, the drugs clouded his mind and the killing was a snap decision, not a planned event.

Larson added that although Williams never admitted killing Dykes, he did show remorse. Several times during Larson’s evaluations, Williams cried when he talked about Dykes and said that he missed and loved her.

Williams sat silently Friday between his attorneys with is head slightly bowed while Assistant State Attorney Bobby Elmore told the jury why Williams should get the death penalty.

“Most crack addicts don’t beat a 95-pound woman to death with a baseball bat, but Kirk (Williams) did,” Elmore said. “What he deserves is the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime.”

Daily News Staff Writer Andy Meinen can be reached at 654-6905,

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