Inmate arrested in slaying after being released from jail to spare him from coronavirus

Joseph Williams, 26, is accused of committing a homicide in Tampa following his release from jail amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

While coronavirus-inspired bans and lockdowns restrict freedom and keep people away from work and church, one Florida inmate found himself free enough to get some drugs, get himself a gun and get arrested in connection with a homicide, reports Local 10 News in Tampa.

On March 20 in Tampa, a day after he was released from jail in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Joseph Williams quickly got himself into some non-virus-related trouble, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Authorities said Williams was one of more than 100 inmates released from custody March 19 until trial due to an administrative order. (He was initially issued a $2,500 bond for the drug charges and was eligible for release prior to the administrative order, however.)

“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,” said Chronister in a statement.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested Williams, 26, in a slaying that occurred on the 8000 block of Ash Avenue. According to reports, deputies responded at 10:40 p.m. that night to several 911 calls about shots fired in the area. A man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials said Williams, who was previously convicted of two felonies including burglary in 2012 and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018, is being held without bond. He is facing a second-degree murder charge along with resisting an officer with violence, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.


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