Gulfport woman found guilty of murder

Twonia Williams. Image source: Harrison County Sheriff's Department.
Twonia Williams. Image source: Harrison County Sheriff's Department.
Sargent's family celebrates long awaited justice.
Sargent's family celebrates long awaited justice.

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County jury found a Gulfport woman guilty of murder for the second time Thursday after only 70 minutes of deliberation.

Twonia Williams admitted she shot and killed 30-year-old Katrina Sargent back in 2009 after an argument in front of Sargent's home over a man. The jury was charged with deciding if Williams had planned to kill Sargent or shot her in a blind rage.

Williams testified she went to Sargent's home to confront her ex-boyfriend she had put out of her home days earlier for cheating. She said she was upset because the night of the shooting, someone told her he was driving Sargent around in a truck Williams had paid $2,000 for.

Williams said she went to Sargent's house and asked for the ex-boyfriend, but he didn't come out. Sargent did, and the women began to argue. Witnesses said Sargent repeatedly asked Williams to leave because Sargent's children were inside.

Judge Roger Clark told jurors if they decided Williams acted in the heat of passion, they had the option to find her guilty of the lesser charge of second degree murder, which means there wasn't a planned intention to kill but there was a recklessness resulting in death. Clark said the jury also had the option to convict Williams of manslaughter if they found she acted in a moment of uncontrollable rage.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Charlie Stewart argued manslaughter is the right verdict.

"There were words passed. This lady lost it. This is not a murder," said Stewart.

However, the prosecution was adamant that since Williams went to Sargent's house with a loaded gun, got out of her car with it, cocked it and pulled the trigger that Williams is guilty of deliberate design murder. Experts testified Sargent was shot in the cheek at close range with direct aim.

"Any time you fire a gun in someone's face you intend to affect their death," said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Simpson.

"Katrina never attacked the defendant. She never had a weapon. When she was shot she was walking away."

Williams was previously convicted of murder in Sargent's death, but that was thrown out by the Mississippi Supreme Court for faulty jury instructions and a retrial was ordered.

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