After pleading guilty to attempted murder in the 2015 shooting of a random motorist on Dauphin Street, 17-year-old Michael Williams was sentenced to 25 years in state prison Thursday.
Williams was one of seven juvenile suspects who was charged in relation to the shooting of Maria Williamson, 26, who reported being ambushed by a group of young males near the interaction of Dauphin and Monterrey while she was driving home from work in June 2015.
One of the two suspects tried as adults for their role in the attempted carjacking, Williams was identified as the shooter and has since pleaded guilty to pointing a gun at Williamson’s face and pulling the trigger after the group failed to pull open her car door that night.
As a result of her injuries, Williamson lost her right eye and has had to undergo multiple surgeries.
During Williams’ sentencing hearing on Thursday, Circuit Judge Sarah H. Stewart said that if it were not for “a few millimeters” the 17-year-old would be facing a capital murder charge with potential sentences of life in prison or the death penalty.
Barely 15 at the time of the shooting, Williams told the court he was “sorry for what he’d done” and “didn’t want that kind of lifestyle,” but Stewart said the severity of his crimes warranted a stiff punishment regardless of his age before handing down a 25-year sentence.“When you act like an adult and walk around with a gun and put it in people’s faces, there are adult consequences,” she said from the bench. “This is the type of crime that everybody in our community fears. They’re just driving home from work, doing the right thing and somebody does something so tragic and horrible that they’re traumatized for the rest of their life.”
After the hearing, defense attorney Jason Darley said he respected Stewart’s sentence given that an attempted murder charge could range anywhere from 20 to 99 years in prison. The imposed sentence was based on the state’s recommendation, which Stewart described as a “generous offer” when the circumstances of Williams’ crime are considered.
Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood said prosecutors were pleased with the sentence. While Williamson chose not to speak during the sentencing hearing, Blackwood said afterward that she was “very happy with the outcome.”
“Maria was on her way home from work the night this happened, and this could have been anybody. She was totally 100 percent innocent not doing anything wrong and this defendant and the other subjects changed her life forever,” he said. “Michael Williams put a gun to her head, pulled the trigger shot her. She’s never going to get over that.”
In all, police arrested six teenagers in connection to the shooting — all of whom were originally charged with attempted murder, first-degree robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Isaiah Kelly, now 18, was also charged as an adult when he was arrested in 2015. At this time it’s unclear what the status of Kelly’s case, and because they were processed as juveniles, the status of cases against the other five suspects is also unknown.
Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly listed Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood’s name as “Keith Blackburn.”