Not-guilty verdict in murder case

Dushan Wilson cleared on all counts in 2006 shooting outside Albany bar

Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ALBANY - A Colonie teenager was acquitted Monday of killing a man outside a West Hill bar in 2006, ending a nearly two-year case that devastated two families and spurred the victim's mother to emerge as one the Capital Region's leading opponents of gun violence.

Dushan "Lil' Du" Wilson, 18, was found innocent after jurors took the weekend off from their deliberations in Albany County Court. After being deadlocked Friday for more than seven hours, the jury reached its verdict Monday before lunch: not guilty on all counts. "Thank you, God," Wilson told his attorney, Gaspar Castillo, after the verdict was read in a packed courtroom, the lawyer said.

Wilson faced 25 years to life in prison if convicted of killing Elleek Williams outside Yana's Grill on May 16, 2006.

Williams, who went to the tavern at Sheridan and Lexington avenues to celebrate his 24th birthday, was shot three times on the street. He was pronounced dead at Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Wilson was arrested three days later, charged with second-degree murder and weapon possession.

In her opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Boland billed the case as one of gang retribution, but Judge Thomas Breslin later barred any talk of gangs from the trial.

The case quickly came down to one key witness, 20-year-old Niyree Adams of Albany, a friend of Wilson who testified she inadvertently drove him to the scene that night and watched him shoot Williams. She said Wilson later told her he shot Williams to avenge his own shooting in February.

But it apparently was not enough to convince the jury.

There was strong reaction to the verdict.

"I'm just numb ... I can't believe it," one of the victim's female relatives said.

Many of Williams' siblings and cousins remained outside the building, crying.

"The justice system failed," said Williams' mother Allison Banks, now a member of Albany's Gun Violence Task Force and co-leader of the Capital Re gion's chapter of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

She blamed the acquittal on numerous factors, including a key prosecution witness, Melvin "Boulder" Campbell, who testified he never saw the gunman's face that night, saying, "I don't know nothin' about nothin'."

She said he testified "out of fear."

District Attorney David Soares said because several would-be witnesses never came forward, "justice was denied today to the Banks family."

Wilson's family remained in the courtroom after the verdict, at times shedding tears of joy. Although Wilson remained in Albany County jail following the verdict, he was expected to be released soon, his attorneys said.

"My son was innocent," said Wilson's father, who declined to give his first name, thanking defense attorneys Castillo and Cheryl Coleman. "It's been a struggle for two years ... I'm just grateful."

Wilson's mother, Marie, said her son had been unfairly portrayed.

"We've got a lot of positive plans for him," she said. "It's not gonna be the streets."

Robert Gavin can be reached at 434-2403 or by e-mail at rgavin@