Man is sentenced to 60 years in murder of coach in Canton

February 27, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,sun reporter

Dismissing a mumbled declaration of innocence from the defendant, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge sentenced a Rosedale man yesterday to 60 years in prison, calling the slaying of a popular basketball coach in Canton in 2005 a "completely senseless act."

Alvin Augustus Williams, 26, was convicted by a jury in January of second-degree murder in the killing of Brian O'Neil Jones, a Northrop Grumman Corp. software engineer and junior varsity basketball coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Southwest Baltimore.

The 60-year prison term is the maximum allowed under state law.

"There really is no need for any leniency," Judge John M. Glynn said in court.

Williams had just proclaimed his innocence in a two-sentence, garbled statement. His words did little to satisfy members of the Jones family, who continued to question the motive.

"We don't understand the reason why this happened," said Gerald Jones, the victim's father, outside the courtroom. "Only God and Mr. Williams know."

Jones, 34, was married and the father of three children: Kameron, who is now 6, Kai, 3, and Kolby, 1. "The oldest speaks of him frequently," Jones' wife, Kenya, said. "He helps me keep his memory."

Williams' mother and fiancee, who were in court throughout the two-day trial, said they were stunned by the length of the sentence. Before leaving the courtroom, Williams told his mother, who had broken down in tears, that he would be "all right."

Williams' mother, Patricia Fisher, said afterward that her son held a steady job at an automobile service center and was the father of three young children.

"This isn't right," Fisher said. "I asked my son, and my son said, `Mom, I didn't kill that man.' I wish whomever killed that man would come forward. I'm losing my son to something he didn't do."

Adrienne Simms, Williams' fiancee, said she wanted to testify to the whereabouts of Williams that night, but the defense chose not to call her.

Williams did not take the stand at his trial. "I know for sure that he was home," Simms said. "We went to register my daughter for school the next morning."

The shooting occurred Nov. 12 when Jones, of Millersville, and a friend were walking from a bar in Canton Square about 1:30 a.m. They noticed a car double-parked, according to court testimony. Jones' friend, Alfred Winborne Jr., testified that Williams got out of the car in the 1100 block of S. Ellwood Ave.

Winborne testified that Williams said a curse word before pulling out a rifle with a scope. Winborne said he and Jones ran in different directions as a gunshot rang out. Winborne said he ran back toward Coburn's Tavern and Grill and alerted a police officer.

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.

"I'm very pleased with what he got," Winborne said of Williams' sentence. Jones and Winborne had become friends on the basketball court eight years earlier. "I'm pleased he is not going to be on the street. I still don't sleep. I still think about [Williams]. I remember every detail."

Winborne and another witness testified to having seen Williams holding a rifle at the time of the attack and identified him from a photo array days later. A fingerprint expert testified that a print left on the door of a white car that police confiscated matched Williams.

The rifle that police believe was used in the killing was on a seat in the car.

Joan Fraser, Williams' lawyer, said during her closing argument that lack of motive should have helped clear her client. Fraser also said Williams' was a victim of shoddy police work.

Assistant State's Attorney Sam Yee never offered a reason for the killing but called a number of law enforcement officers who detailed a trail of blood from the point Winborne said he and Jones were confronted by Williams, and ending where Jones was found.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Williams used the car of a female friend's sister.

"This case was probably the most troubled I've handled in my five years in homicide," Yee said yesterday.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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