Homicide trial begins for Washington shooting suspect

Henry Dion Williams on trial for killing a New York City man in Pickle’s Saloon bar parking lot

September 10, 2013
Henry Dion Williams is escorted by Washington County sheriff’s deputies to the courthouse for the first day of his homicide trial Tuesday. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Rensfield Jarvis was inside Pickle’s Saloon in Washington’s West End for less than five minutes – not even enough time to finish his drink – before he was gunned down outside in the early hours of May 24, 2012.

In his opening remarks Tuesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Mike Lucas said a man wearing a black shirt and red baseball cap followed Jarvis out of the bar and shot him three times. He identified that man as Henry Dion Williams, who is on trial in the fatal shooting, and planned to produce several minutes of the bar’s surveillance video as evidence.

But Williams’ public defender, Glenn Alterio, said during his opening statement the mere presence of Williams at or near the bar does not mean he pulled the trigger or was involved the killing.

Jarvis, 23, of New York City, was shot in the face, shoulder and chest in the Ewing Street bar parking lot with a .357-caliber handgun. He had a faint pulse when police arrived, but was not breathing and died at the scene.

“That tells you it was their intention to take someone’s life,” Lucas said of the locations of the three gunshot wounds.

Williams, 30, of Pittsburgh, is facing charges of homicide, illegal possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm without a license.

Lucas said Jarvis came into the bar shortly after midnight and immediately walked over to “an unidentified black male” wearing a black shirt, blue jeans shorts and a red baseball cap. He tried to shake his hand, Lucas said, but the man refused. Jarvis then walked over to the bar and ordered a drink.

The unidentified man then came over to the bar next to Jarvis and ordered a beer. The two talked for a few moments and the other man went back to the pool table. A few minutes later, Jarvis is shown on the bar’s surveillance video leaving the building with the other man following behind.

“He wasn’t in the bar long enough to finish that drink,” Lucas said.

Witnesses said they then heard three gunshots and Williams left the scene in “a hurry” that night, Lucas said.

Lucas said he planned to play the surveillance video from multiple angles, call witnesses who later identified Williams as the man wearing the black shirt and cap, and bring forward evidence his black Lincoln car was left near the scene. However, Lucas never offered a motive for the killing during his opening statements.

Alterio said just because Williams was in the area does mean he killed Jarvis.

“There clearly is a dispute about the facts of the case,” Alterio said. “There are some we agree on, and a lot we don’t agree on.”

Alterio declined to say how many witnesses he will call or if he would have Williams testify. Prosecutors could call as many as a dozen witnesses during the trial, which is expected to last the rest of the week.

Five men and seven women were selected as jurors Monday for the trial before Washington County Judge John DiSalle.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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