12/13/06 — Defendant sentenced to life without parole

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Defendant sentenced to life without parole

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 13, 2006 1:45 PM

The trial of a Duplin County man accused of the 2005 shooting of Rose Hill police Officer Mitchell Anderson finally ended Tuesday with defendant Tyrone David Williams being sentenced to life without parole.

He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, larceny of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The jury, however, did not find him guilty of intent to kill.

On Sept. 10, 2005, Anderson responded to a domestic dispute call on the corner of Brice's Store Road and Pope Road on the outskirts of Rose Hill.

According to Anderson's testimony, when he arrived he saw two individuals arguing on the side of the street. Upon his approach, Williams immediately fled the scene with Anderson pursuing on foot.

The chase led the pair into a dark, partially wooded area at the end of McCoy Street.

When Anderson caught up to Williams, the two men began to struggle.

Anderson testified that during the fight Williams said he was going to take his gun -- a Heckler & Koch USP .45-caliber pistol.

He tried to protect his weapon, but during a lull in their struggle, Anderson testified, he saw his gun go off in front of him.

He was shot in his left shoulder.

Williams fled the scene with Anderson's gun and was arrested four days later in a trailer park along Burgaw Highway (N.C. 53) in Onslow County. He was found under a bed in a trailer with the gun still in his possession.

During the trial, defense attorney W.H. Paramore argued that Williams did not intentionally shoot Anderson.

He argued that Anderson created a dangerous situation by pursuing Williams into a dark area, alone and without a flashlight, when backup was only minutes away. He also argued that there was no way Williams could have gained control of Anderson's gun -- unless it was already out of its three-step secure holster -- and that the nature of Anderson's injury proved there was no intent to kill.

Paramore's argument was, apparently, enough to keep the jury from finding that Williams acted with "intent to kill," but not enough to keep him out of jail.

After finding Williams guilty, the jurors then found him to be both a habitual felon and a violent habitual felon because of his past criminal record.

Williams had previously been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in 1994 and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in 2001 -- both in Duplin County. He also was convicted of possession of cocaine in Duplin County in 2004 and the misdemeanor charge of possession of a weapon on school grounds in Duplin County in 1992.

Under the circumstances and given the defendant's past criminal record, Paramore said the outcome was about what he expected.

"It was a very difficult case to defend. I did everything I knew to do, but he made it difficult by taking the gun and fleeing. The jury found him to be a violent habitual offender, so he automatically receives life without parole on that," he said. "I argued that life without parole wouldn't give him any hope and that what he had done was serious and significant, but was not serious enough for life without parole. But the jury disagreed.

"Still, I felt like that (the lack of intent to kill) was something of a victory and it showed the jury was listening to the evidence."

The Duplin County District Attorney's office, however, was pleased with the outcome.

"This defendant is a very dangerous individual," District Attorney Dewey Hudson said. "Based upon the defendant's prior criminal record, his habitual felon status, his violent habitual status and the violent nature of the offenses committed against Officer Anderson, the defendant deserved a long active sentence.

"The sentence of life without parole imposed in these cases should serve to protect the citizens of Duplin County."