Rosedale man convicted of killing coach in Canton

January 13, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,sun reporter

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury found a Rosedale man guilty yesterday of second-degree murder in the killing of a popular basketball coach during what police described as an unprovoked attack in Canton in 2005.

Alvin Augustus Williams, 26, was convicted of killing Brian O'Neil Jones and could face up to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 26.

The verdict, announced after about two hours of deliberation, brought a measure of relief to the Jones family, though they questioned why Williams was not convicted of the first-degree charge prosecutors sought.

"I was a little upset they didn't get the first-degree [conviction]," said Gerald Jones, the victim's father. "The whole thing has been very difficult. We've put our lives on hold."

The elder Jones said he felt sympathy for the defendant's family, including Williams' mother and fiance, who were in court throughout the trial.

Jones, flanked outside the courtroom by the victim's mother and brother, said he was pleased "only to the point that no one else can suffer the things my son went through."

Brian Jones, who was married and the father of three young children, worked as a Northrop Grumman software engineer. He also coached junior varsity basketball at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Southwest Baltimore.

Jones, of Millersville, and a friend were coming from a bar located in Canton Square about 1:30 a.m. Nov. 12 when they noticed a white car double-parked, court testimony revealed.

Alfred Winborne Jr., who was with Jones that night, testified that Williams got out of the car in the 1100 block of S. Ellwood Ave., walked around to the front, cursed and pulled out a rifle with a scope on top. Winborne said he and Jones then ran in different directions.

Jones was shot once and staggered at least two blocks to a grassy lot near Canton Harbor Nursing Center, where he died. His body was discovered hours later.

Winborne, who ran toward the club and alerted a police officer to the incident, was not hurt.

Prosecutors never offered a motive. Joan Fraser, Williams' attorney, said during her closing argument that the lack of a motive should help exonerate her client. Fraser also criticized the police work and highlighted conflicting accounts of two witnesses who placed Williams in different types of automobiles.

"Why would somebody come to the 1100 block of Ellwood at 1 in the morning and start shooting at somebody?" Fraser asked the jury.

Fraser could not be reached for comment after the verdict.

Assistant State's Attorney Sam Yee, who prosecuted the case, said: "When we get a murder conviction in this city, we're always happy."

One juror said lack of a motive was the primary reason why the jury found Williams guilty of second-degree murder.

The juror, who did not want his name used because he feared retribution, said all the members thought Williams was guilty on the first vote. Williams' lawyer never accounted for his whereabouts that night, something that resonated with the jury, the juror said.

"If the person is not guilty, then where were you at? Do you have an alibi? That question was not asked, and when the question was not asked, we knew that he did it," the juror said.

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