[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Oct 8 04:07:09 UTC 2006
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FAMILY OF WILLIAMS TESTIFIES IN CAPITAL MURDER CASE
Family members of Clifton Lamar Williams testified Friday about the
convicted killer's childhood.
Williams, 23, faces life in prison or the death penalty after he was
convicted of capital murder for beating, strangling and stabbing to death
93-year-old Cecelia Schneider on July 9, 2005, before setting her body and
bed on fire and stealing her car and purse.
On Friday, the jury continued hearing evidence from defense attorneys in
Williams' punishment trial.
The defendant's father, Willie Williams, said he was never married to or
lived with the mother of Williams and 2 other children. He said he paid
child support and visited the children nearly every weekend in
He said the mother of his children began to change shortly after Clifton's
birth and she exhibited "strange behavior ... like voodoo." He said she
would put onions inside the walls of her apartment, throw salt everywhere,
would buy inappropriate items at the grocery store and kept house poorly.
He said when they would go out to a restaurant, he and the children would
sit separately from her because she talked to herself.
Williams said he did not believe she was properly caring for the children.
She would not drink the tap water and would cook meals but throw them away
before they were eaten. He said he never saw her physically abuse her
children but he did report her to Child Protective Services, which did an
investigation but did not take the kids from her, he said.
Williams said when he visited, the children often would want him to take
them to eat. He said he believed they were not being properly nourished
but they looked to be of normal size.
After their mother died, Clifton and his younger sister came to live with
their father in Tyler. He said he was summoned to school 2 to 3 times
regarding Clifton in the 7th grade and when he occasionally saw his report
cards, he was concerned. He said he attempted to get Clifton counseling
and help with school but his son refused.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham showed Williams and the jury
school records from Jacksonville and Bolter Middle School in Tyler.
Clifton made several As, Bs and Cs, as well as some Ds.
Williams said he did not believe Clifton recognized authority figures and
did not respect his rules because he had none with his mother. He did not
always do what he was asked, wouldn't always admit when he did something
wrong or apologize.
In 11th grade Clifton started to skip school and he dropped out in the
12th grade. He said he sent Clifton to the job core but he returned after
a few days. Clifton worked for three fast food restaurants in Tyler for
short periods. He said Clifton was terminated from one restaurant because
he was "messing with some child through the window" in a sexually
inappropriate way. He was terminated from another for not showing up to
Williams said his son talked to himself a lot like his mother had and he
believed he needed professional help for his strange behavior. He said
Clifton was 19 when he went to the Andrews Center for help. Williams
helped his son receive Social Security benefits and find an apartment
after Clifton had been living on the street. He said Clifton did "improve
somewhat" after being treated at the Andrews Center. He said he never saw
his son use drugs.
Williams said his mother's death was hard on Clifton and he refused to
talk about it at all. He said his son "felt that I didn't know him enough
... that I wasn't around him enough."
Williams said he always felt his son was capable of doing better than what
he was doing.
Jason Swindell, Williams' brother, also testified about his mother's
"strange" behavior and growing up with Clifton.
Helena Hawkins, Clifton's aunt, told the jurors about the strange behavior
of her sister, Clifton's mother. She said she was close to her and visited
her on many occasions. Sometimes the children would call and tell her to
come to their apartment, she said. Ms. Hawkins said her sister treated her
kids OK and did not physically abuse them.
The trial is set to resume Monday in 114th District Judge Cynthia Stevens
Kent's court with more evidence from defense attorneys Melvin Thompson and
LaJuanda Lacy. First Assistant DA April Sikes is prosecuting the case with
MORE ATTORNEYS NEEDED FOR CAPITAL MURDER CASES
State district judges expressed concern Friday that not enough Smith
County defense attorneys are getting approved to represent capital murder
Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent of the 114th District Court said it is a
serious problem that attorneys are not filing their applications and
taking continuing legal education hours to get approved to defend those
facing the death penalty.
She said Smith County has a lot of competent, capable, qualified and
experienced attorneys who don't want to get on the list. She said it is an
issue the judges, attorneys and community have to address. The lack of
approved lawyers could shut down the trying of capital cases in the
county, Judge Kent said.
State law requires attorneys defending capital murder defendants be
approved each year.
Only 2 Smith County attorneys are approved to be lead defense counsel in
capital cases, according to a list updated Sept. 8 and approved by John
Ovard, presiding judge of the First Administrative Judicial Region.
There are 4 local attorneys approved to be second chair on capital cases.
Lawyers have to be approved by Ovard each year in October.
(source for both: Tyler Morning Telegraph)
Northwest neighborhood like 'war zone'---- Recent arrest does little to
ease minds of residents who say gunshots, gangs plague area
Tierra Jackson pauses as she struggles to recall the 1st time she heard
gunshots in her northwest Houston neighborhood.
Stumped, the 10-year-old turns to her cousin, Myoshia Jones, 21, seated
beside her at a small playground of an apartment complex on De Soto near
"We hear gunshots all the time," Jones said.
The woman said her 2 children are forced to remain indoors or confined to
their porch most of the time. Jones ultimately concludes that there's no
escaping the guns, drugs and gangs that surround them.
In nearby Antoine Forest Estates, residents there are not so tolerant of
the gunfire and other crime they said has spilled over from the complexes
along De Soto.
"It's a war zone," said Orlando Sanchez, president of the neighborhood
Residents say this week's arrest of Antonio Lee Williams, 26, on murder
and capital murder charges related to 3 slayings this summer, will do
little to change the neighborhood. Police said Williams went on a killing
spree in a bid to gain control of drug trafficking in northwest Houston.
He is accused of fatally shooting Dion Barnes, 33, on June 17 in the 7400
block of North Shepherd. A month later, police said he fatally shot
15-year-old Christopher Harris, of New Orleans, in the 5500 block of De
Soto. Williams is also accused in the Sept. 1 fatal shooting of his friend
Terrell "T-Rock" Ball, 25, also on De Soto.
At a probable cause hearing Friday, Williams, dressed in a jail uniform,
looked on as prosecutor Lance Long announced plans to seek indictments
against him early next week in the shooting deaths of Vincent Williams,
18, and Yolanda Styles, 22. Police said he fired about 30 rounds from a
rifle Aug. 5 at the pair in the 5600 block of De Soto, where their bodies
Afterward, Long commended the witnesses who came forward, and he urged
anyone else with relevant information to contact authorities. Other crimes
may come to light, he said, if more witnesses step forward.
Long said the district attorney's office had not yet decided whether to
seek the death penalty. Williams' attorney, Charles Brown, said it seems
likely. Williams is scheduled to be back in court for another hearing Nov.
Not enough, residents say
Williams' arrest has brought little peace to the community, residents
As children scampered around the playground, Jones said many people knew
to keep their distance from Williams this summer, fearful he would "snap
on them." While Williams is off the streets, other dangers remain,
Gun-toting drug dealers brazenly flash their pistols. Thieves still walk
along Antoine Forest's streets with towels in hand, which they use to
protect their arms when they break into cars and homes. And residents
still live in fear.
Such fear is present not only in the handful of apartment complexes that
line De Soto most of which are in states of disrepair but also in the
adjacent neighborhood, where brick homes with well-manicured lawns go for
"It's getting out of hand," said Sanchez, who also patrols his
neighborhood as a Citizens on Patrol volunteer. "But we're going to stay
The Antoine Forest residents have hired a private security company to keep
watch. They have noticed a drop in crime and also an unfortunate dip in
their property values from last year, Sanchez said.
Judith Arnold, who, like Sanchez, has lived in Antoine Forest for more
than 20 years, said crime has worsened in the past four years. One night,
Arnold said she was forced to take cover inside her home when she heard a
volley of gunfire, then the sound of one bullet nicking the light post
across her street.
Arnold says now she doesn't venture outdoors without her panic alarm
"Yeah, you better believe I'm scared," she said.
(source: Houston Chronicle)
3 charged with murder now indicted for kidnapping
3 Jim Wells County men previously charged with murder are now facing a
much more serious charge. The suspects, Alfred Gonzales, Alonzo Gonzalez
and and Alejandro Garza Jr. are now charged with capital murder in the
death of Javier Sanchez.
Sanchez was shot to death back on January 2 and dumped along a county road
just north of Alice. Investigators said the the 3 were re-indicted because
they allegedly kidnapped Sanchez before killing him.
Prosecutors said they probably won't seek the death penalty. One of the
suspects, Alfred Gonzales is in federal custody in San Antonio on drug and
weapons charges. The other 2 are in the Jim Wells County Jail.
(source: KRIS-TV News)
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