Local News

Williams Found Guilty, Could Face Execution

Posted February 26, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— A Wake County jury found John Williams Jr. guilty of 11 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the death of two women.

Police arrested Williams, who was homeless, in February 1997 and charged him with the Jan. 7, 1996, slaying of Patricia Ashe, whose body was found behind 1501 S. Blount St.

Ashe was the first of six black women, all poor and with ties to the local drug trade, who were killed and found in or near downtown Raleigh. Police initially arrested Williams Feb. 4 on a charge of attempted rape.

Police said they caught Williams that night as he was attacking a woman in a parking lot. According to an arrest warrant, Williams assaulted the woman with a box cutter.

Williams was then charged with the slaying of Deborah Jean Elliot, 35. Her body was found Dec. 26, 1996, six blocks from where Williams was arrested. Elliot's sister, Valerie, believes that justice was done Friday.

The jury returned its verdicts just after 12:30 p.m. Friday. The jury said Williams was not guilty of two counts of attempted rape and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. The two capital murder convictions mean jurors will have to decide whether Williams should be sentenced to life in prison or death. Prosecutor Shelley Desvousges was relieved by the guilty verdict.

Sentencing begins Monday. andBrian Shrader