BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He was accused of killing his wife in broad daylight on a busy city street. Now, one-time community activist Cleaven Williams is found guilty of first-degree murder.
Suzanne Collins has reaction to the verdict and the unusual move made by the jury in the case.
It was a shocking scene outside of an eastside district courthouse as a man sat on top of a woman, stabbing her repeatedly in November 2008. An officer tried to save the man’s wife—Veronica Williams—by shooting her husband, Cleaven Williams, twice with a taser.
The prosecutor says Veronica Williams was stabbed by her husband in the face to take away her beauty and in the throat to take her voice.
A witness to that murder is gratified.
“I held Veronica in her final moments of consciousness,” said Shayna Samero. “I did not know her but in that moment I felt like I knew her better than I’ve known some people my whole life.”
The jury had been deliberating since mid-day Tuesday. There had been several notes to the judge, but their contents have not been released. They announced the verdict shortly after 2 p.m. Friday. They released this statement with their decision:
“We request that along with our verdict this letter be written into the court record. We ask that it be read aloud as a testament to the tragedy that unfolded on Nov. 17, 2008. It is with heavy hearts and great pain that we have arrived at our unanimous decision. We mourn with both families in the [loss] of their loved ones. We recognize that the lives of [the three children] have been forever changed [due] to this tragedy, that their lives would one day come to a [sense] of normalcy. We pray that Mr. Cleaven Williams be given the help and support that he so desperately needs to pay back the debt he owes. We pray that he find forgiveness in the eyes of his maker and that the children of this broken family find peace.”
Williams admitted he stabbed his wife, but told jurors he was provoked by his wife who’d cut his neck when they fought. But clearly they didn’t believe him. They decided it was not voluntary manslaughter.
“I am truly grateful that Veronica’s name will be vindicated,” said Veronica’s friend lyverne Beard. “She was a beautiful person.”
A cousin of the victim says Veronica Williams was afraid to report the domestic abuse to police because Cleaven Williams was head of the Greenmount Community Association and had a close relationship with police officers and commanders.
“The eastern district– the ones that didn’t help Veronica and knew him– they are a disgrace to their badge,” said Carlin Robinson, Veronica’s cousin.
Williams will be sentenced on April 29. He faces life in prison.
The couple has three children–two girls ages 8 and 10 and a 9-year-old boy.
On Friday, the family of Cleaven Williams released this statement:
“This is a very tragic and sad situation for both families, but more importantly and especially for the children. Veronica (Vee) was an important part of our family for almost 10 years and we loved her and also miss her. If we can change what has happened, we definitely would. All both families can do now is to be there for the children to ensure they know the family that truly loves and cares about them. It is and has been our family’s prayer that in time Veronica’s family finds forgiveness as we are so sorry for what happened.”