A Harford County man convicted of crack and cocaine distribution was linked to the shooting death of a confidential drug informant during a sentencing hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Gary B. Williams Jr., 28, of Abingdon was convicted on three counts of drug distribution in December. The key witness in the drug case was Robin Lee Welshons, an informant who was cooperating with federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents by making recorded telephone calls and buying drugs from Williams in 2005, court records showed.
While negotiating for crack in November that year, Williams asked Welshons, "You ain't working with no feds, are you?" and warned that he didn't "play games," according to a transcript of their telephone conversation.
Family members have said that Welshons, 35, worked for the federal authorities as a confidential informant in an effort to reduce a prison sentence.
She was shot multiple times and killed at an Aberdeen motel in February 2006, just two days from starting an 18-month prison sentence, authorities said.
Although Williams has not been charged in the death, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Copperthite said that Williams conspired in Welshons' shooting and that information should be considered relevant to his sentence.
If U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles accepts the prosecution's argument that Williams was involved in Welshons' death, he could face up to life in prison, prosecutors said.
"Drug cases receive a minimum of 10 years without parole, and are usually 15 to 16 years," said defense attorney Christie Needleman.
Needleman said she was "blindsided" by the information that allegedly connected her client to Welshons' death. "The state now introduces evidence that he's responsible for the informant witness' death. I've never heard any of this before," she said.
Quarles rescheduled the sentencing for May 16 to give the defense an opportunity to respond.
Copperthite said Williams knew that Welshons was working with police because he had questioned and threatened her.
The night before Welshons' death, she called a federal agent to "express concern for her safety." She said that Williams had called her on her cell phone and had driven by her work, staring at her before driving off, according to court documents.
Detective Donald Licato of the Aberdeen Police Department testified that the defendant's family members told him about Williams' involvement in Welshons' death.
Williams' sister told police that she overheard her brother say they had "to do something about Robin Welshons." She told police that she also heard that a man known as "Uncle Ken" shot Welshons in the face, Licato said in court yesterday.
Williams' father told police that his son came to his house to obtain a revolver and vowed to "take care of Robin Welshons."
The defendant's father said he tried to dissuade his son but that Williams took the gun anyway, according to Licato's testimony.
When Williams was asked about Welshons' shooting, Licato said that he "laughed and lawyered up."
Family members of Williams and Welshons declined to comment yesterday.
Welshons' mother, Mary Welshons, wrote a letter to The Sun last year blaming police for not protecting her daughter's identity.
Mary Welshons wrote that her daughter "was helping the system do its job. She was sent out to do their work, having no experience, training, nor protection from the authorities to ensure her safety.
"What should Robin have done when she couldn't count on the system she was helping out to protect her? Her death has terribly devastated those of us who knew her, love her and miss her so much every day."