A Florida inmate released from prison last month in response to the coronavirus outbreak was arrested Monday on a murder charge.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Joseph Edwards Williams, 26, was booked on a warrant following a March 20 homicide in an East Tampa suburb – one day after he was released from jail.
Local media WFLA reports HCSO records show Williams was “released from custody at 8:02 a.m. on Thursday, March 19 per an administrative order aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the county jails. The sheriff’s office says he was one of more than 100 inmates released from custody until trial.”
In a statement Tuesday, HCSO Sheriff Chad Chronister called on the Florida State Attorney to prosecute Williams to the “fullest extent of the law.”
“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense,” reads the statement from Chronister. “As a result, I call on the State Attorney to prosecute this defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Judges, prosecutors, and Sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety… Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak. Our commitment as an agency is to keep this community safe and enforce the law.”
Footage circulated Wednesday featured Williams being booked into jail by two deputies wearing face masks and gloves.
New video of murder suspect Joseph Williams being booked in jail from @HCSOSheriff. He's one of the inmates released last month per an order signed by a judge to reduce risk of #COVID19 outbreak in jail. Notice the deputies are wearing masks/gloves. @WFLA https://t.co/LCMjYhlbgg pic.twitter.com/LjROJzoKVV
— Justin Schecker (@WFLAJustin) April 15, 2020
Williams was charged with second degree murder with a firearm, a felon in possession of a firearm charge and resisting arrest, and is being held on a $250,000 bond after a hearing Tuesday.
A report on the sheriff’s office website describes the previous offenses for which Williams was locked up.
He was previously convicted of two felony offenses including burglary of an unoccupied conveyance in 2012 and felon in possession of a firearm in 2018, in addition to five misdemeanor convictions. Throughout the course of his criminal history, Williams has been arrested for 35 charges in total.
Williams was booked into Orient Road Jail on March 13 for possession of heroin (less than four grams), a third-degree felony, and possession drug paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.
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The Coronavirus has turned the tables upside down on the prison system. As liberal regions release prisoners back into an already unstable reality. Meanwhile, average citizens are being filling the very same jail cells for simply practicing their rights. This global nightmare is throwing more gasoline on a raging inferno of chaos. As citizens worldwide are reaching a boiling point. As the rights they had taken for granted are taken for good. And police officers and emergency services join the numbers of those infected.
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