Man killed af­ter be­ing short $3

Jury con­victs on 1st de­gree mur­der, rec­om­mends 63 years

Daily Press - - Local News - By Peter Du­jardin Staff writer

HAMP­TON — Joshua David Wil­liams owed a $20 debt early last year for a rock of crack co­caine.

If he didn’t pay up, he was told more than once, he would be killed.

Wil­liams, 32, tried to come up with the money to pay it back by pan­han­dling out­side a Fam­ily Dol­lar, wit­nesses said.

But a pros­e­cu­tor said he was only able to come up with $17 — and was still $3 short.

Even though Wil­liams said he’d be get­ting a dis­abil­ity check the next day, that wasn’t enough to sat­isfy the men who came to his girl­friend’s apart­ment one evening to col­lect the money, said As­sis­tant Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Christo­pher Young.

“They wanted the money then, and they didn’t get it,” Young said dur­ing a clos­ing ar­gu­ment in a jury trial on Fri­day. “Be­cause of the $3, he’s no longer alive.”

Wil­liams was shot and killed just af­ter 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2018, just out­side his girl­friend’s apart­ment, in the Colo­nial Land­ing Apart­ments in the 2100 block of Ke­cough­tan Road.

He had been shot once in the back of the neck.

On Fri­day, a Hamp­ton Cir­cuit Court jury found J’Quan Ma­lik Vin­ston, 21, of New­port News, guilty of first-de­gree mur­der, con­spir­acy and a gun charge.

Af­ter the ver­dict, Young asked that ju­rors rec­om­mend Vin­ston serve life be­hind bars for the crime.

“That is the cor­rect pun­ish­ment for some­one who does some­thing like this, given the bru­tal­ity and lack of re­morse we’ve seen from this de­fen­dant,” he said.

Vin­ston’s de­fense lawyer, Ni­cholas Hobbs, asked the jury to sen­tence him to 24 years, the min­i­mum for the crimes un­der law.

Hobbs said Vin­ston would be 45 years old if he serves that time, al­low­ing for some pos­si­ble redemption as a mid­dle-aged man.

“He is re­morse­ful over this,” Hobbs said. “I ask that you give J’Quan a chance.”

The jury rec­om­mended that Vin­ston serve 63 years — 50 years for the mur­der, 10 years on the con­spir­acy and three years for us­ing a gun in a felony.

A co-de­fen­dant, Isa­iah L. Smith, 18, of Hamp­ton, goes to trial in April on the same charges. It’ll be the sec­ond mur­der trial in two years for Smith, who was ac­quit­ted last year in a sep­a­rate Hamp­ton slay­ing from Au­gust 2016.

Po­lice didn’t es­tab­lish who the trig­ger­man was in Wil­liams’ slay­ing.

The hand­gun used in the crime was later found in a garbage can at a Hamp­ton home where both Vin­ston and Smith were ar­rested. A mix­ture that in­cluded DNA from Vin­ston, Smith and an­other per­son were on the gun, foren­sics ex­perts tes­ti­fied.

At the trial, Hobbs, Vin­ston’s lawyer, laid blame for the killing on Smith, con­tend­ing Smith simply “flew off the han­dle and did some­thing hor­ri­ble” af­ter he went to speak to Wil­liams.

Vin­ston tes­ti­fied that Wil­liams ac­tu­ally owed $50, but promised to pay $150 af­ter he got his dis­abil­ity check — and that Vin­ston was OK with that.

But Young said Vin­ston had threat­ened to kill Wil­liams over the prior days. A wit­ness also tes­ti­fied that Vin­ston was hold­ing a black hand­gun — which matched the mur­der weapon — af­ter the shoot­ing, while Smith was said to have a sil­ver hand­gun.

More­over, Young said that re­gard­less of who fired the weapon, two con­spir­a­tors are cul­pa­ble for the ac­tions of each other un­der Vir­ginia law.

“They came together, they worked together, they fled together and they hid together,” he said, terming Vin­ston and Smith “busi­ness part­ners.”

Wil­liams’ mother, Rose Wil­liams, 56, said she lost all three of her chil­dren — all in their early 30s — within a 16-month stretch. Be­fore Joshua Wil­liams’ 2018 death, one daugh­ter died of a heart attack in 2016, an­other died of can­cer in 2017.

“I thought nothing could happen to Josh,” she said.

Joshua Wil­liams, she said, had a de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­ity stem­ming from hav­ing the um­bil­i­cal cord wrapped around his neck at birth. That led to him get­ting picked on in school and drop­ping out af­ter the eighth grade.

But he had a kind­ness about him, his mother said. He would of­ten do auto me­chanic work for free if peo­ple had no money to pay him, be­cause he knew peo­ple needed their cars.

“All I do is cry,” she said of the past year. “I can’t sleep. I miss him more than life . ... He was a great kid, sweet, good sense of hu­mor. I can’t say enough about Josh.”

He leaves be­hind three girls, ages 13, 11 and 8.

Rose Wil­liams’ fi­ance, Bill Jenk­ins, 52, said he wished Joshua WIl­liams had asked him for the money he needed. “$3, that’s all it was,” he said. “If he needed $20, he could have just called me.”

Hamp­ton Cir­cuit Court Judge Michael Gaten will sen­tence Vin­ston at a date to be set later.

Vin­ston

Wil­liams

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