Friday, December 14, 2012

The Prosecution Team for the People vs. John Norman Collins

John E. Peterson of The Detroit News reported after the guilty verdict was announced in the John Norman Collins case that "the two prosecutors had no use for histrionics. They were concise and they were precise. Prosecutor William F. Delhey and Assistant Prosecutor Booker T. Williams came out of the trial looking more like clinical workers than dramatists."

On Sunday, May 31, 1970, two days before the Collins trial was to begin, William B. Treml wrote in The Ann Arbor News that Prosecutor Delhey was "cool, unemotional, professional. He has a fifteen year reputation for being meticulous, methodical, and calculating in the preparation of a criminal case."

Delhey was forty-five years old and had a wiry, athletic build and a penetrating voice. He lettered in football for three years at Ann Arbor High School and placed second in the 880 yard dash in the 1942 state track meet. Delhey enlisted in the Army Air Corp and took pilot training but World War Two ended before he saw any combat action.

After his enlistment, he earned a Bachelors of Science degree in 1947 from The University of Michigan. He worked as an air pollution chemist for the Ford Motor Company and took night classes part-time at The University of Detroit graduating with a law degree in 1954.

Delhey went into private practice in 1955 and became assistant prosecutor in Washtenaw County in 1957. In January of 1964, he was appointed prosecutor and won the office outright in the November elections of that year. He was re-elected in 1968. 

William Delhey was married and had two boys and two girls, ages ranging from two through twelve. Politically, he was said to be a Republician.

Assistant Prosecutor Booker T. Williams was forty-nine years old and born in North Carolina. He had combat experience in the Pacific theater of war as a sergeant in World War Two. 

Williams also worked his way through school. He began at The University of Pennsylvania in 1947-1948 and moved to Ypsilanti in 1950. He paid the bills by working as a night clerk in an Ann Arbor hotel and earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1952, and his law degree in 1955, both from The University of Michigan. 

Booker T. Williams went into private practice but joined the prosecutor's staff in 1958 and left in 1960. When William Delhey was appointed prosecutor in January in 1964, Williams returned to become an assistant prosecutor.

While he was actively engaged with the Collins trial, Booker Williams had to overcome personal tragedy. During the jury selection process, his wife Arletta Marie had a heart attack. He took off nineteen days to be with her at her bedside before her death and another week to get his household of seven young children organized. Williams was the father of six boys and one girl, ages ranging from thirteen to nineteen months. 

John Peterson wrote that "Williams effectively poked holes in the scientific testimony of defense experts sniffing out inconsistencies and hammering away at discrepancies. He earned a reputation for rapid-fire, rapier cross-examination." 

Prosecutor Delhey lauded Williams for his work on the Collins' trial and said it was critical to the People's case.