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Last updated: May 21, 2019 at 8:46 p.m.
ST. CROIX — Francis Williams, a former police officer who government prosecutors allege killed two colleagues on August 10, 2016 while serving in the V.I.P.D., was found guilty this afternoon on 8 of 10 counts.
Mr. Williams is facing life in prison for the killings of deceased Officers Lesha Lammy and Kai Javois.
The high-profile court battle, which commenced just over a week ago in the Superior Court and presided over by Judge Harold Willocks, saw the prosecution building a case that sought to paint Mr. Williams as a man whose feelings were hurt after learning that the woman he loved had left him for another man. Adding to the burn, the prosecution argued, the man was another police officer who had been a junior officer on the police force and a person he had considered a friend.
“Hell has no fury like a man scorned,” said Nadja Harrigan, an attorney with the prosecution, during opening arguments on May 13. With her gaze set on the jury, she added, “He [Francis Williams] could not stand that Lesha had moved on and refused his marriage proposal.”
The defense had sought to cloud the jury’s mind with reasonable doubt by bringing other individuals that Ms. Lammy and Mr. Javois were close to that could have committed the act. From a man against whom a number of police reports were filed by Ms. Lammy, along with a restraining order, to Mr. Javois’s girlfriend, whom he lived with while dating Ms. Lammy.
In the end, however, the jury was convinced that it was Mr. Williams who murdered his two colleagues that fateful day in August 2016 at Hams Bluff, Frederiksted, which is located all the way past the crusher to the North of the island.
Mr. Williams was found not guilty on the two first-degree murder charges for both Ms. Lammy and Mr. Javois. That particular verdict relieved defense attorney Gordon Rhea because it carries a sentence of life without parole. Mr. Williams was also found not guilty of false imprisonment of Ms. Lammy.
He was found guilty on all other counts: Second-degree murder of Ms. Lammy; voluntary manslaughter of Ms. Lammy; second-degree murder of Mr. Javois; voluntary manslaughter of Mr. Javois, first-degree assault of Ms. Lammy; First-degree assault of Mr. Javois; use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime of violence against Ms. Lammy; use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime of violence against Mr. Javois; and stalking and domestic violence against Ms. Lammy.
Although Mr. Rhea was pleased that Mr. Williams was not convicted with first-degree murder, the attorney expressed disappointment with the outcome of the case, but said he respected the jury’s decision. Relative to whether an appeal was warranted, Mr. Rhea said he would have to first look at the case before making a determination.
Quincy McRae, an attorney with the prosecution, said he was very pleased with the verdict for the families of Mr. Javois and Ms. Lammy. “We cannot bring back Lesha and Javois, but I hope that there’s some sense of justice for the family,” he said.
Lead Prosecution Attorney Timothy Perry said he was honored to fight for the families of the deceased victims, and said that the Dept. of Justice had been working on the case for the last two years.
Steve Javois, Kai Javois’s father, said, “It’s a good day. Justice was served. God don’t sleep.”
During closing arguments on Monday, the defense sought to weaken the prosecution’s smoking gun — a shell casing found on the scene that the prosecution, through tests performed in Louisiana by an ATF agent, confirmed to be from Mr. Williams’s weapon. The defense argued that if Mr. Williams was cleaning the crime scene, why would he remove all the other shell casings but leave the most visible one, which was located near Mr. Javois’s white Jeep Wrangler. The defense also argued that the weapon was test-fired and compared to fragments found in the bodies of Mr. Javois and Ms. Lammy, and said that the prosecution could not conclude with certainty that they came from the weapon that was assigned to Mr. Williams.
“If the bullet does not fit, you must acquit,” Mr. Rhea said.
The prosecution said Mr. Williams was simply sloppy with cleaning up the crime scene. Even so, when Mr. Rhea reminded the jury that there was no DNA tying Mr. Williams to the crime scene, the prosecution painted Mr. Williams as a seasoned officer who had trained colleagues.
The prosecution leaned on what it appeared to have considered one of its strong points: motive. Mr. McRae said it did not matter how the defense sought to connect other individuals that Ms. Lammy was close to, or had past relationships with, to the crime — it was Mr. Williams who had the motive to do harm to his former lover and her new boyfriend. The prosecution said Ms. Lammy and her ex husband, with whom she shared three children, had a good relationship at the time of the incident. And Mr. Javois’s girlfriend did not know of the relationship with Ms. Lammy and Mr. Javois until it was discovered that he had been murdered.
“He is the only one that did not return any calls concerning the fact that Lammy was missing,” Mr. McRae argued. Mr. Williams, the prosecution said, had been visiting Ms. Lammy’s mother often following the breakup, expressing to the mother how much he loved her daughter, and at one point even showed the mother the ring he had bought for Ms. Lammy that he hoped would be the wedding band used during a union that he had envisioned.
However when Ms. Lammy went missing, Mr. Willliams, the prosecution said, would not return the mother’s calls, nor did he help in the search to find her.
“Most people, when the person they love is in trouble, you can’t keep them away… But Francis did nothing — he did nothing — not a text,” Mr. McRae argued.
Adding to the suspicions, the prosecution was able to recover some of the texts that Mr. Williams had sent. They include: “Lesha left me for this loser.” “I can’t believe she did this to me.” “They moved Javois to the night shift so he and Lammy will have more time to be together.”
Some other texts were darker: “They just want to fuck with me. She will get hers. They will get what’s coming to them.”
Sentencing is scheduled for August 2.
VIC Journalist Shenneth Canegata contributed to this story.
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