Williams found guilty of capital murder, sentenced to life - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

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Williams found guilty of capital murder, sentenced to life

(Photo source: WLOX) (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Jalen Williams has been found guilty of capital murder in the 2014 death of Lamont Hayes, but the defense says they will appeal.

As Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Williams to life in prison, the judge told him, "Your last breath will be in the penitentiary."

Despite defense attorney Michael Crosby's efforts to punch holes in the prosecution's case, particularly in the lack of forensic evidence tying Williams to the crime scene, it took the jury less than two hours to reach a verdict. Family members of Lamont Hayes reacted with silent tears as the prisoner was led away.

On the second day of his capital murder trial, Williams began by talking about the night Hayes was murdered.

As the defense prepared to call character witnesses, the court was set to go late into Thursday night. Williams, however, decided not to testify so the defense rested instead. But, in a way, he did testify during a three-hour long video of his interview with Gulfport Police detectives, taken just days after the murder.

Jurors and family members of Hayes sat, focused on every word.

Drew Robinson -- then the lead investigator with the Gulfport Police Department -- described the interview as aggressive and tailored for Williams, who the detectives regularly called a liar. Williams initially denied being Hayes' house on the night of the murder, but detectives were eventually able to get him to confess that he was there. Williams also admitted to having a gun, after first denying it to the officials.

Williams also admitted to yelling for his co-conspirator Rashad Johnson -- also known as Snow -- to help get Hayes off him while they struggled. Johnson pleaded guilty to murder last week, admitting he pulled the trigger. During the interrogation, Williams also admitted to hearing two gunshots.

Witness testimony also revealed that Hayes' wife and son who were at the home that night, as well.

In cross examining Robinson, defense attorney Michael Crosby criticized the interview process for being too heavy-handed. He also criticized police for having a startling lack of forensic evidence -- which included no murder weapon ever being recovered, as well as no DNA or fingerprints. Crosby says he will appeal the guilty verdict.

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