Teenager is sentenced in friend's fatal shooting


June 03, 2008|By STEVEN STANEK

A 17-year-old Annapolis resident was given a 35-year sentence yesterday for the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old friend Halloween night.

Dupree Rashard Williams, who confessed to shooting Jerome D. Hughes with an automatic handgun outside a public housing community, was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder and 10 years, to be served consecutively, for use of a handgun in committing a felony.

Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom suspended half of the sentence and said Williams could be eligible for placement at the Patuxent Institution, a state treatment facility for mentally ill prisoners.

Friends and relatives of Williams and Hughes sat on opposite sides of the tense courtroom as the judge asked them to "preserve the peace and harmony."

Defense attorney Frank C. Gray Jr. painted a picture of Williams as a teen with drug problems who habitually used PCP, Ecstasy and alcohol. He added that Williams had lived in nine homes between 2003 and 2006.

Williams and Hughes experienced "common frailties," Gray said. The two had an "exchange of words," and his client feared for his life before the shooting, the attorney said.

Police found Hughes on his back with a crowd of trick-or-treaters gathered around.

In the courtroom, Williams turned to Hughes' family members and apologized.

"I take full responsibility," Williams said. "Jerome was my friend, and I'm sorry."

Hughes' grandmother, Alice Johnson, testified at the sentencing that she forgave Williams, adding that her grandson was no "goody two shoes."

She then turned to friends of Williams and Hughes and told them it was time to reconcile.

"You have to forgive. If you don't, it's like a cancer," she said. "It's time for all of you grow up."


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