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Suspended sentence for former Dunbar star in Okla. sex case

In this photaken Jan. 26 2011 OklahomState forward Darrell Williams is pictured during an NCAA college basketball game against Texas

In this photo taken Jan. 26, 2011, Oklahoma State forward Darrell Williams is pictured during an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in Stillwater, Okla. Williams has been charged with a felony count of sexual battery and three felony counts of rape by instrumentation. The Payne County District Attorney's office filed the charges Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, against Williams. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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Updated: November 14, 2012 3:01PM

A former Dunbar High School basketball star convicted of a sexual assault in Oklahoma is being released from jail Friday after a judge rejected his request for a new trial but suspended his sentence.

That means the Darrell Williams, who played for Oklahoma State University, could return to Chicago soon.

Payne County, Okla., Judge Phillip Corley gave Williams two one-year sentences that were to run concurrently and ordered the sentences be suspended. Williams must register as a sex offender.

Williams, 23, attended Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., on a basketball scholarship after showing promise at Dunbar on Chicago’s South Side.

But he was charged with four felony counts of rape by instrumentation, accused of putting his hands down the pants of two white women at an off-campus house party in December 2010.

Williams, who is black, maintains his innocence, telling police he must have been misidentified by the women since he and his fellow OSU basketball players all wore similar warmup clothes.

But a jury that included no African Americans convicted Williams in July on two rape counts and acquitted him of two others. Jurors recommended the minimum sentence of two years.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson took up Williams’ cause, traveling repeatedly to Stillwater to put a spotlight on the case.

Williams’ supporters have packed the courtroom each time he has appeared. Standing by him has been his team’s head coach, Travis Ford, and many of his classmates.

Ford suspended Williams from the OSU basketball team in February 2011 but testified at Williams’ trial that he believed he was innocent.

In August, Williams’ defense attorneys filed a motion for a new trial, saying they had discovered new evidence since the July jury trial that is “exculpatory, and would have been used to impeach a witness and there is a reasonable probability that the suppressed evidence would have produced a different verdict.”

But the request for a new trial was rejected Friday, and the judge moved forward with sentencing.

Waiting with the rest of the family for her nephew to be released from the Payne County Jail, Mildred Williams cried.

“Everybody looking at it like, ‘He’s out of jail.’ He still has to register as a sex offender,” she said by phone. “He still will be able to be around his daughter.”

Mildred Williams didn’t last through the hearing in the jammed courtroom where spectators were warned against outbursts.

“I busted into a cry so I walked out,” she said. “We all just in a state of shock right now, like how could this happen?”

The last-minute evidence centered around one of Williams’ accusers, who’d had “issues” in other states, Mildred Williams said. The judge considered files sent to him from other states pertaining to her background, she said.

Brandi Robertson, who with another of Darrell Williams’ friends started a Free Darrell Facebook page and Twitter account, described the room as “very somber.”

Williams’ two accusers were not in court, though their families were, she said.

“The judge said he received 1,500 documents, and he reviewed them all but saw no reason to grant a new trial,” she said. “People were crying.”

Robertson thought the judge wanted it both ways.

“If he really, really thought those girls were raped, 80 days, is that good enough?” she asked, referring to the time Williams has already served in jail. “Now he’s ruined Darrell’s life.

“What judge really believes two women were really raped and gives 80 days? That’s just absurd to them.”

Contributing: AP

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