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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Jerome Williams Jr member of Dawg Life street gang.

17:53 |

Jerome Williams Jr., who was named by an accomplice in the murder-for-hire of a South Bend woman and has not been charged, said he would appeal his conviction and sentence based in part on the fact that prosecutors were not able to produce the drugs they claimed he had sold."The evidence they had was the testimony of people that didn't get along with me and people in trouble trying to get out of jail," Williams said at his sentencing hearing, which was Friday morning in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Indiana.Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald J. Schmid said prosecutors relied on the testimony of 10 to 12 witnesses who had known Williams for years. Some had worked for him while others had been his clients."This was a historical case," Schmid said after the hearing. Schmid said Williams, 33, had distributed as much as 1,700 grams of crack cocaine."I'm absolutely convinced that the streets of South Bend will be much safer," Schmid said.One of the people Williams had dealings with was Chris R. Deguch, who was sentenced in November to 20 years in prison after he admitted his role in the murder of Melissa Shields.Shields was strangled in September 2007. Her body was found in Ravina Park.At his plea hearing, Deguch identified Williams as the man he paid to harm Shields. But Williams has not been charged in connection with the case, and the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office has declined to comment on the open investigation. Williams suggested during his sentencing hearing that he was really being punished for his suspected role in Shields' murder and denied having killed her.Schmid said he could not comment on the Shields case, but acknowledged that some of the evidence used by federal prosecutors was developed by homicide investigators with the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office."We always work in conjunction with them," he said.A sentence of life in prison was mandatory in Williams' case because he had been previously convicted of two other drug-related felony offenses, Schmid said.A person with two prior drug-related felony offenses who is convicted of dealing 50 or more grams of crack must serve life in prison, according to federal law. Williams has had a total of 17 misdemeanor and felony convictions since 1994, said Schmid, who called him a "significant member" of the criminal gang Dawg Life.In all of 2008, federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Indiana had one case of mandatory life sentence for drug dealing, Schmid said.

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