Los Angeles, CA - Voltaire Williams, convicted for his part in the 1985 assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams, is being released in a few days on parole, despite outrage from police officers, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, and even criminal-loving Governor Jerry Brown.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Williams, age 54, has served 27 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of conspiracy to convict murder for his part in the assassination of Detective Williams. In 1989, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
In October, 2016, a two-person panel of parole commissioners decided that Williams, who has no relation to the murdered detective, was suitable for parole. That is fewer than the usual number of people on a parole panel.
In December, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown ruled against the decision to release Williams, and said that "he had not confronted his actions and responsibility."
Williams' conviction for conspiracy in the murder, and not for the actual murder, did not allow Governor Brown to reverse the panel's decision. Instead, he called for a review by the full panel of parole commissioners.
On Tuesday, May 2, the full panel upheld the two-person panel's decision to grant Williams parole. A release letter will be delivered to California State Prison Solano, where Voltaire Williams is serving time, and he is expected to be released within five days after that.
Daniel Jenkins launched the plot to murder Detective Williams as retaliation for investigating him as a robbery suspect. Detective Williams was murdered just hours after testifying against Jenkins.
Jenkins had recruited Voltaire Williams to help him carry out the plot, but the plan didn't work when the detective didn't show up where he was supposed to.
Voltaire Williams then recruited one of Detective Williams' neighbors for the murder, but after much planning, he backed out.
Jenkins and another man, Ruben Antonio Moss, finally murdered Detective Williams themselves. They ambushed and assassinated Detective Williams on October 31, 1985, with his six-year-old son an Ryan in the car beside him. Moss drove as Jenkins fired 17 times from a machine-gun type weapon from a car window. Detective Williams died almost instantly.
Jenkins was sentenced to death in the gas chamber, and remains on death row in California.
Five men were charged in the murder of Detective Williams, but only Moss, Jenkins, and Voltaire Williams were convicted. Moss was sentenced to life in prison and remains in prison at Lancaster.
A jury acquitted Voltaire Williams of first-degree murder. According to his attorney, he said that he was going to take part but backed out about a week before.
In a statement, the LAPPL said, “Detective Williams was assassinated because he did his job. The Parole Board’s decision is an affront to every peace officer who risks their lives to protect others on a daily basis. He does not deserve freedom.”
In 2015, Detective Williams' widow Norma wrote a letter to Governor Brown that asked him to deny parole for Voltaire Williams. In that letter, Norma Williams asked Governor Brown to review the facts of the case, including that Voltaire Williams recruited a "potential assassin" at Jenkins' request who backed out of the plot only because he found out that the detective was a police officer and not a security guard, as he had been told.
She also said that there was a murder plot against her and her children. When one of Jenkins' associates was in the area looking for the detective, he reported back to Jenkins that the detective was not there. He then told Jenkins that the family was there and asked if he should take them out?
Norma Williams also noted that Voltaire Williams was hanging out in front of the school waiting for Detective Williams to arrive a few days before he was murdered, and that he had a gun in his possession. It was later learned that Voltaire Williams was there to kill Detective Williams.
She also said that after her husband's murder that she and her children were under protection "due to known and credible threats," and that Voltaire Williams is not "remorseful" nor "rehabilitated"
She also said in the letter:
"If Voltaire Williams is released, I strongly fear that my children, my grandchildren and I will be in real danger. That is the reason I moved out of California which was my home state and where Tom gave his life protecting others. I am more concerned about my safety and welfare.
Please Governor Brown, do not allow the Parole Board to render this decision. Please give me and my family peace of mind. We always believed in the judicial system as well as did Tom. He was a wonderful father, husband and friend to many. Tom’s memory and ultimate sacrifice should not be diminished due to prison “over-crowding” or economic reasons. Tom was proud to be an LAPD Detective and only wanted to keep his community and family safe. He was the son of an Army career officer and was offered an appointment to West Point. Tom turned it down by saying, 'My future is being a police officer and the only department I want to join is the Los Angeles Police Department… no other'."
Governor Jerry Brown has been the main driving force behind paroling more convicts by pushing Proposition 57. He lied to Californians when he told them that with Proposition 57 they would only be releasing non-violent criminals, but violent criminals are being dumped back into the population.
Proposition 57 was supposed to save the state money by releasing non-violent criminals. However, according to a fact check put out by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, “non-violent” in California can mean anything that's on the "serious felony" list but not the "violent felony" list. Conspiracy to commit murder is not explicitly listed on the list of "violent felonies" and it's not immediately clear how much Prop 57 played into Voltaire Williams's release. Other "non-violent" crimes in California include:
Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer Battery with serious bodily injury Solicitation to commit murder Inflicting corporal injury on a child First degree burglary Raping an unconscious person Human trafficking involving a minor Participation in a street gang Exploding a destructive device w/ intent to cause injury (yes, setting off a bomb in a public place)
Despite the Mayor of San Diego, two senators, over twenty five congressmen, fifty district attorneys, twenty seven sheriffs, and nineteen police chiefs opposing Prop. 57, it was voted into law with the backing of Governor Jerry Brown
Now a man convicted in the assassination of a police hero is going to be a free man while he's still young enough to enjoy his life, and Detective Williams's family still grieves.