GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jalen Williams, 19, graduated high school in May and became a father in July. His family said that changed him for the better. That's why they were shocked when 16 days after his baby's birth, Williams was arrested for murder.
"I know he is innocent," Jalen Williams' mother, Brenda, said. "I want to make sure that is proven, because he was a daddy to his son. That's what he wanted to be, more of a dad than he had, and I'm proud of him."
"I talk to him almost daily, since his son has been born," Williams' brother Michael Bester said. "I see no change in his demeanor or anything. And I know my brother, he's not a cold person. So if he was involved in anything like that, it just wouldn't make sense."
Brenda Williams said she was actually at home with her son, his girlfriend, and their child the night Lamont Hayes was murdered.
"I took the baby back in there to put him on his chest," Brenda Williams said, "which is where little Shaq likes to go to sleep, on top of his dad."
But Gulfport Police investigators have a different story of what happened the night of July 22. In court Wednesday, a detective took the stand and told the judge everything he believes happened the night 41-year-old Lamont Hayes was murdered.
The detective said Jalen Williams, Rashad Johnson, 17, and another man walked into the Hayes' home on Carson Drive in Gulfport looking for money. Police said the third suspect saw children and ran out of the house.
Investigators believe Johnson went into the bathroom where Hayes' wife was taking a shower and then went with Williams into the bedroom where Hayes was in bed. According to police, the teens asked Hayes, "Where's the money?" Hayes and his wife told the teens they did not have any money and pleaded with them to leave and take their car, but police said Williams and Hayes got into a fight.
Williams and Hayes were on the ground fighting when they believe Williams told Johnson to get Hayes off of him. Williams was able to get out from the fight, police said, but Johnson shot Hayes twice. The suspects then, reportedly, tried to get into the victim's car, but ran away from the home.
"My heart goes out to them," Williams' brother Darrien Bester said. "But again, I stand by my brother and I know that he is innocent."
Police said Williams even admitted he was at the Hayes' home the night of the murder. An investigator said Williams said he and Johnson were carrying guns and went into Hayes' bedroom, got into a fight, but then he said he ran down the street before Johnson fired shots at Hayes.
However, those at the home told police both men were there when Hayes was murdered.
Williams' attorney. Michael Crosby. said Williams only said he was there because the investigator told him he could go home to see his son.
"They said confession, but he really did not," Crosby said. "That's not what he said. There was an allegation that he was in the area at the time and there, but you have inconsistencies among the witnesses."
Investigators are waiting to get DNA and fingerprint evidence from the crime lab. After that happens, the charges for Williams and Johnson could be upgraded to capital murder.
"I ask everybody to keep an open mind until we get to the end," Crosby said. "I do expect the truth to come out."
From here, the case will be turned over to the district attorney, who will have to present the evidence to a grand jury to see if Williams and Johnson will be indicted for murder.