07/08/10 — Jury finds Williams guilty in 2008 murder

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Jury finds Williams guilty in 2008 murder

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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Brandon Lee Williams

Brandon Lee Williams showed little emotion as he was handcuffed in a Wayne County courtroom just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Williams was found guilty of the 2008 shooting death of Silvia Benitez Morales, 28, a Fremont mother of two.

Judge Arnold O. Jones ordered him to serve life in prison without parole for the offense.

The defendant was also convicted of two other counts, including first-degree burglary and impersonating a police officer.

In a quiet, impassioned closing statement, assistant district attorney Matt Delbridge told jurors if they did not return with a verdict of first-degree murder "just don't come back with anything."

He read back a statement from Williams given during a taped interview with detectives describing the scene of Mrs. Morales' home just before the murder, as well as his state of mind.

The defendant had arrived at the Morales home with a gun, after admittedly heavy heroin use throughout the day on March 3, 2008.

"We went to the bedroom. I then noticed on the way to the bedroom there was a little boy on the couch. I started to leave, but I thought she would just call the cops'" Delbridge read, pausing for dramatic effect.

Earlier, in his closing statement, defense attorney Geoffrey Hulse had argued that Williams was out of his mind on massive quantities of heroin.

Hulse said Williams had admitted to taking about a gram of heroin earlier in the day, which is one-fourth of the amount that would constitute a trafficking offense -- a large amount for a person to take, he said.

Hulse argued that the amount of narcotics the defendant had consumed made it difficult for the state to argue "specific intent" which is required for a conviction of first-degree murder.

But Delbridge said there were other indications that Williams had been thinking clearly.

"He had the mental capacity to go throw this gun away, to drive all the way across this county of Wayne, somewhere over in Princeton. That takes a lot more mental process than to just pull the trigger of the gun," Delbridge said.

The jury, equally divided by gender with six women and six men, took slightly more than an hour to deliberate and find Williams guilty of the three offenses.

Other charges against Williams, including attempted first-degree rape and attempted first-degree sex offense that had been on the original indictment were not considered by the jury after having been dismissed by Jones following a motion by Hulse.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders praised lead investigator Detective Sgt. Tammy Odom and Detective Lt. Carl Lancaster, along with others who helped work the case.

"Any time you have a random murder, which has no connections at all, as to why that person would be killed, it is a difficult one to work," Winders said. "It took a lot of expertise, and a lot of work to solve this case."

The sheriff said he wanted to say that law enforcement took no joy in sending Williams to jail, but was glad justice was served.

"This young man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, and you know, nobody gets a thrill out of that. But at the same time, when you kill an innocent person, you've taken away their life. So two lives were ruined, a family is ruined, a mother was taken away from (her children). And now, (Williams) life and future has been taken away."