Second Chance for Man Serving Life without Parole
Decatur, Ga.- A convicted armed robber serving life in prison without parole at Hancock State Prison in Sparta, Georgia was resentenced on Thursday following a guilty plea to a nearly two decades-old case. The rare legal action comes on the heels of what is termed an ‘Extraordinary Motion for New Trial’ brought by the Southern Center for Human Rights on behalf of Defendant Christopher Williams, now 45.
Williams was convicted in 2000 for the 1999 armed robbery of a DeKalb County liquor store, during which he served as an unarmed lookout. Following his conviction, Williams was sentenced as a recidivist to a mandatory life without parole term because of a previous armed robbery conviction as a teenager. At the time of his conviction, the law provided no judicial discretion for a lesser sentence. The law has since changed. Given his extensive sentence, Williams’ defense attorneys championed his case and petitioned District Attorney Boston for resentencing options.
Among the factors influencing DA Boston’s decision not to oppose the motion were: 1. The change in law. 2. The disproportionate nature of the Defendant’s sentence compared to similar cases. 3. The Defendant’s role as an unarmed participant. 4. No loss of life, or injuries, and no shots fired during the crime in question. 5. The Defendant’s exemplary prison record. 6. The District Attorney’s commitment to criminal justice reform, including, but not limited to, fair and just prosecution and appropriate sentencing.
Immediately following the Court’s granting of the Defendant’s Extraordinary Motion for New Trial, Williams entered a guilty plea to the original charge of Armed Robbery. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson, who presided over the hearing, subsequently sentenced Williams to the recommended sentence agreed upon by the State and Defense of twenty years, to serve 19-- with credit for time served and the balance probated. To date, Williams has served 19 years and 3 months in prison. He was released from custody several hours after the hearing.