Thursday, October 11, 2012
Roger Williams was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday after a jury found him guilty of two charges – homicide by child abuse and unlawful conduct toward a child.
Williams was charged in the 2010 death of his two-year-old son, Rodricus Fred Williams. He was accused of abusing his child and dumping the body in the woods near Vance. The child’s body was encased in a trashcan filled with more than 400 pounds of concrete.
The jury’s Thursday deliberation lasted 33 minutes. The trial began Monday afternoon. Numerous witnesses were called to testify throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. The final two witnesses were called to the stand Thursday morning.
Williams did not testify.
Defense Attorney James Falk and Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Assistant Solicitor Anne Williams made their closing statements to the 14-person jury Thursday morning.
The jury returned to the courtroom at 1:19 p.m. to deliver their verdict.
The Honorable Judge Markley Dennis sentenced Williams to life in prison without parole on the homicide by child abuse charge. Dennis sentenced Williams to a concurrent 10 years for the unlawful conduct toward a child charge.
Rodricus’ mother, Shaneka Washington cried silently in the front row of the audience after the verdict was read.
Falk then made a motion for a mistrial because he said he was concerned the jury did not give it enough consideration.
Dennis said in his 19 years as a judge, the case was overwhelming for him.
“I don’t quarrel with the length of time,” Dennis said to Falk. “I think the jury did it very properly. I will respectfully deny your motion for a new trial or mistrial.”
Dennis said the defendant, in his own statement in a police interview, said he was guilty.
Williams then spoke for the first time in the trial. He apologized to Washington, her family, the Huger family, his family and friends, the jury and the community.
“I just want everyone to know my intentions were never to be cruel,” Williams said. “I do want to apologize to Grace Trotman. If I was the family man she wanted me to be that came home, this situation might never have occurred.”
“There is overwhelming evidence,” Dennis said. “Being a parent, none of us are given instruction manuals. A lot of it is just common sense and decency.
“You made the statement about gambling your money away when your children are sleeping on blankets on the floor. It displaced my heart. It’s totally inconsiderate. Grace’s child died. He deserved much more than that.
“And then to do what you did, methodically, intentionally. I just can’t think of anything that indicates a more hardened heart . . . then to go back. I don’t know how a father can do that.
“Your actions in itself warrant what I’m about to do in my opinion,” Dennis said moments before he handed down the sentence.
Washington attempted to make a statement at the podium after the sentencing, but was unable to speak. She was sobbing audibly.
At this point Connie Huger, a family friend who said Rodricus stayed with her until he was two, spoke at the podium.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who brought justice to Rodricus,” Huger said. “He learned those songs from my family. He was comical. He got so much love from our house.
“I can’t cry right now because I’m so overjoyed . . . I am so deeply touched. He did not deserve what he went through. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.