A D.C. Superior Court hearing commissioner yesterday refused to lower the first-degree murder charge against Johnny Williams, accused of shooting a member of an eviction crew who tried to evict Williams and his family from their Northwest Washington home last month.
Public defender Barbara Bergman argued at a hearing that Williams was "extremely distraught and emotionally upset" at the time of the incident and should not be charged with premeditated murder.
But hearing Commissioner John W. King ruled there was enough evidence of premeditation in connection with the shooting to support a charge of first-degree murder. The commissioner made his ruling after D.C. homicide detective Jeff Greene testified that Williams had threatened the night before the incident occurred to shoot anyone who tried to evict his family.
Greene also testified that Williams, 61, a security guard, had placed a rifle next to his front door on the morning in which the eviction crew was to evict the family.
The shot that killed 24-year-old eviction officer Donald Granderson Jr., piercing his heart, was fired through the glass of the front door of the Williams home at 1529 Spring Pl. NW, Greene testified. At the time of the shooting, Granderson was using a mallet to remove the doorknob after U.S. marshals who had accompanied Granderson got no response from repeated knocks.
Granderson worked for Inpersonam Service Inc., an Arlington eviction company.
In court, Greene quoted Williams as saying he did not mean to shoot anyone, but, "They were going to put me and my family and my property on the street. I've worked too long and too hard. I couldn't let that happen to me."
Williams, who was seven months away from retirement as a $300-a-week security guard with the Naval Medical Command in Bethesda, had once owned the house on Spring Place, but sold it last year because of financial difficulties.
According to court documents, the eviction was ordered after Williams failed to pay the new owner of the home $325 monthly rent in November and December.