WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – For three and a half hours Monday afternoon, in a Warren courtroom, a jury deliberated on whether convicted murderer Kashaun Williams, 30, should live or die.
The decision came down around 6 p.m. The jury decided against the death penalty. Instead, they recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Williams was found guilty last Thursday of murdering James Chapman and injuring Chapman’s girlfriend, Martina Moore.
The panel returned to court on Monday to determine whether or not Williams should be sentenced to death.
On Monday, Williams walked into the courtroom and sat in a chair. Several minutes later, when Judge Ronald Rice read that the state had not proven the need for the death penalty, Williams’ lawyer, Tony Meranto, could be heard hitting the table while his other lawyer, Tom Zena, pinched his eyes. Meranto patted Williams’ back.
“Certainly our client made some mistakes, did some things wrong, committed some crimes, but I don’t believe at all that this was the type of case that was appropriate for the death penalty,” Meranto said.
“They did a remarkable job,” said Lasoneya Lynk, Chapman’s mother.
Lynk thanked everyone involved — from the prosecutors to the judge — and seemed at peace with the jury’s decision.
“Even though they didn’t give him death, he’s never coming home,” she said.
Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker, who earlier asked the jury for the death penalty, was also OK with the verdict. He understood what the jury was up against.
“It’s very hard for jurors to go back into a room and sign a document knowing that they’re going to put someone to death,” Becker said. “This defendant is clearly a menace to society and to keep him off the streets for the rest of his life is a great verdict.”
When it was over, Williams was led off to prison forever.
“He’s going to die there, so I’m happy with that,” Lynk said.
Earlier in the day, Williams took the witness stand and asked the jury to spare him from the death penalty. He wanted to give the jurors a view of his life.
“I’ve been sittin’ here listening, and it’s clear that nobody really know what’s going on,” Williams said.
Williams said he’s not a bad person, that he doesn’t wake up with crime or violence on his agenda. He said he’s actually an anti-social person.
“Sometimes, I still don’t understand how I’m sittin’ here in front of y’all,” Williams said.
For close to 35 minutes, Williams gave a rambling and sometimes incoherent speech describing his history of run-ins with the law and time behind bars, admitting along the way he sold marijuana and other drugs to make a living.
“‘Cause I never had an honest job a day in my life,” Williams said.
Williams said he met Chapman and Moore that night last April to smoke pot and have a few drinks.
“Still catchin’ up to me this day — certain things that transpired throughout that night. I’m still have a hard time remembering things,” Williams said.
Williams told the jury he was sorry and held no grudges for the way the case played out.
“I do show remorse for what happened to James that night,” Williams said.
Cleveland-area psychologist Dr. Sandra McPherson, who interviewed Williams in jail, took the stand saying he is addicted to marijuana and suffers from ADHD but never received proper care.
“He was a kid. He was in need, and he was maltreated as far as I’m concerned,” McPherson said.