The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and ordered a new trial in a case resulting in a guilty verdict of murder by a former Huntsville cop in Madison Circuit Court in 2021.

William Darby, a former officer with the Huntsville Police Department (HPD), was sentenced by a jury to 25 years in prison in 2021 for the alleged murder of Jeffrey Parker in 2018.

According to the court's opinion, on appeal, Darby "argues that the trial court erred by refusing to give three of his requested jury instructions; he also argues that the trial court violated his right to a public trial and that the jury's verdict was against the great weight of the evidence."

"We conclude that the trial court's refusal to give one of the requested instructions was reversible error, and we remand the case for a new trial on that basis," the court wrote in its opinion.

Members of the court concluded that "because the testimony regarding a police officer's training supported a finding that Darby acted in self-defense or defense of another, the omission of a jury instruction regarding the proper perspective from which to evaluate such evidence raises legitimate questions as to whether the jury's verdict was affected by its omission."

"If we cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury evaluated Darby's use of deadly force from the proper perspective, then we cannot conclude that the trial court committed harmless error by refusing to give requested instruction no. 35 or some similarly worded instruction," members of the court wrote.

Bodycam evidence showed Darby responding to the call, where Parker had pointed a flare gun at his own head.

Two officers were in the residence attempting to reason with Parker. Darby entered the home, armed with a shotgun, and demanded that Parker drop the gun. After giving two commands, Darby fired on Parker, killing him.

A spokesperson for the City of Huntsville said in a statement, "[T]he City of Huntsville believed there were serious errors in the Darby trial." 

"We are grateful for the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals which validates those concerns," the Huntsville spokesperson added. "We remain committed to the judicial process and confident in that process."

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