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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Central Tampa News

Recorded call led to arrest in UT student’s slaying

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TAMPA -

For three years, detectives worked tirelessly to find the man who killed University of Tampa student Ryan McCall.

On Monday, the State Attorney’s Office released 228 pages of investigative documents outlining how detectives interviewed numerous witnesses to narrow down a list of more than a dozen suspects to one man: 22-year-old David Earl Williams Jr.

What the documents don’t show is what Williams said to detectives when they interviewed him about McCall, who was fatally shot at the foot of a bridge about a mile from the UT campus on Aug. 19, 2009.

All of Williams’ interviews with police were redacted in the documents after his attorneys filed a motion last month objecting to the release. Public defender Christopher Boldt wrote in the motion that Williams’ statements to detectives constituted confessions and “were exempt from public disclosure.”

Prosecutors say they have a key piece of evidence connecting Williams to the crime.

Included in the discovery documents is an audio analysis of Williams’ voice, which police said was recorded as the attack on McCall and one of his roommates, Michael Harahan, took place.

Harahan was leaving a voicemail for his brother as he and McCall were walking across the Eugene Holtsinger Bridge on North Boulevard when a man with a gun approached them and said, “Get over here, get the (expletive) over here,” police said.

Harahan, hit in the head with a pistol, turned to McCall and said, “run,” the documents said.

Harahan ran and thought McCall was running away, too, Tampa detective Sal Augeri wrote in a report.

Behind Harahan, a gunshot rang out. He didn’t look back, the report said.

McCall, 21, a runner on UT’s cross country team, had been shot on the left side of his body, a police report said. The bullet went through his arm at the elbow, into his chest and struck his heart, according to a medical examiner’s report.

McCall was “able to run 50 to 75 yards north where he collapsed and died on a grass shoulder of the road,” detective Ronald Paulk wrote in a report.

It took detectives a frustrating 33 months to make an arrest. The key came back to the attacker’s voice recorded on Harahan’s phone.

Forensic investigators took the voicemail and compared it to recorded interviews detectives made with Williams about McCall’s slaying, the documents show.

The raw recording from the cell phone “provided barely enough speech to permit appropriate processing for speaker identification,” Harry Hollien and James Harnsberger, consultants with Forensic Communication Associates wrote in their report.

“After processing, however, it was judged possible to carry out the task — even though the results might be less than robust.”

Hollien and Harnsberger concluded that “the speech on the evidence recording was uttered by the defendant, Mr. Williams,” but that “the confidence level for this judgment is set at 64 percent overall.”

The consultants said the “possibility of error exists” but that “based on a rigorous set of criteria … the conclusions drawn should be viewed as accurate.”

Williams was identified as a person of interest two weeks after McCall’s slaying, but police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said when Williams’ arrest was announced last year.

He had been released from prison 27 days before McCall was killed, police said.

When detectives first questioned Williams about McCall’s death at an apartment complex on Sept. 2, 2009, he rode up to them on a stolen bicycle, court documents said.

For more than three years, detectives interviewed dozens of people and chased down numerous leads. The offer of a $50,000 reward and jailhouse posters asking tips from inmates finally led detectives to Williams.

Williams told detectives he confronted McCall and Harahan at the foot of the bridge, hit Harahan on the head with a gun then robbed him, an arrest report said. Williams told detectives he went through both of the students’ pockets but said another man shot and killed McCall, the report said.

Williams was arrested May 23 at a South Florida prison, where he was serving a sentence on unrelated charges.

Williams is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery in connection with McCall’s death. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.


rreyes@tampatrib.com

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