Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memphis, TN: Memphis man gets 6 years for killing wife

aying the defendant "got away with murder," a judge Thursday denied probation and sentenced a Memphis man to six years in prison for the shooting death of his wife two years ago.

Dameon Williams was charged with first-degree murder after putting a pistol to his wife's head and pulling the trigger, but a Criminal Court jury in May agreed with the defense that it was an accident.

He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Latisha Williams, a verdict that Judge Paula Skahan found unsettling.

"You put a gun to her head and you killed her," the judge said to the defendant. "You were very fortunate the jury did not convict you of first-degree murder or second-degree murder. This is so horrible."

First-degree murder would have called for an automatic sentence of life in prison. Voluntary manslaughter calls for three to six years.

Williams, 30, has been in jail nearly two years, making him already eligible for parole.

"I just want to send my deepest apology to the family," he said from the witness stand. "I didn't mean to do it. I didn't know the gun was loaded. I never would intentionally hurt my wife."

The shooting occurred the morning of Aug. 20, 2010, at the couple's home at 2225 Riley Alley in Orange Mound.

The medical examiner said the 9mm pistol was pressed to Latisha Williams' head when fired and that the barrel's imprint was seared into her scalp.

In the trial, jurors heard a tape of Williams' 911 call in which he cries and emits high-pitched wails that he had just shot his wife.

"That 911 call got him voluntary manslaughter," said state prosecutor Missy Branham, who suggested probation for Williams so stringent conditions such as restitution might be attached. "There's no justification for ever putting a gun point-blank to someone's head."

Public defender Kamilah Turner argued that her client did not know the gun was loaded, that he had no motive to kill his wife and that he took immediate action after the shooting by calling 911 for help.

"There were no witnesses," she said, "but he did not try to run, hide or make up a story that someone else did this."

Latisha Williams, 35, worked for a security company and left five children by two previous marriages or relationships.

"When he goes to bed and when he wakes up in the morning he's going to see her face because he killed her for no reason," said the victim's father, Luis Victor, 65, who is raising the two youngest children, girls ages 9 and 11. "I'm not a youngster, but I will take care of them until I leave this earth."

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