Juvenile suspect in Ardmore park shooting pleads not guilty
A 17-year-old arrested in connection with a shooting that reportedly paralyzed a woman has pled not guilty and could go before a jury later this year.
Jackson Henry Williams was taken into custody around two and a half weeks after the incident at Charlotte Hall Park on June 23, 2020. Ardmore Police Department Capt. Claude Henry told The Ardmoreite police believe the incident may have been a result of a drug deal gone wrong.
Williams is accused of firing two shots into the air and an additional four shots into the park, where a 20-year-old woman was sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle. Police said the woman, who had no connection with the incident, was struck by the gunfire and hospitalized due to her injuries.
According to Carter County court documents filed in November, the bullet reportedly lodged in the victim’s spinal cord and resulted in “complete paralysis from her mid-chest down.” Court records state that the victim has also lost a great deal of use out of both of her arms and hands.
A second suspect caught running from the park on the day of the incident is believed to have arrived at the park with Williams with the intent to purchase marijuana, according to APD. Police reportedly found a firearm in 19-year-old Gabreon Noland’s possession, but do not believe he ever fired it.
Noland was charged with carrying a firearm unlawfully on June 25, and pled guilty to the charge in September.
One felony count of assault and battery with a deadly weapon was filed against Williams on June 30, and Williams reportedly pled not guilty to the charge during an arraignment on Dec. 9. The court is now deciding whether Williams will be tried as an adult or a juvenile.
According to Carter County court documents, a psychological evaluation revealed that the suspect had likely experienced a great deal of childhood trauma and substance use difficulties.
Should he be found guilty, Williams’s attorneys claim that there is a reasonable likelihood that Williams could be rehabilitated through the juvenile court system.
In a motion opposing the request for the imposition of an adult sentence, Williams’s attorneys argue that the incident was accidental and that no gun was drawn until "large, grown men" came toward him in a "threatening manner."
However, the state prosecution gives a conflicting report, alleging that the suspect attempted to rob the adrug dealer.
The court will consider whether Williams should be certified as an adult or a youthful offender at a hearing set for Feb. 10. At this time, the trial is scheduled for the May 3, 2021 docket.
The punishment for an adult accused of assault and battery with a deadly weapon can be up to a life sentence, but youthful offenders accused of serious crimes are given sentencing alternatives and the opportunity for rehabilitation through programs with the Office of Juvenile Affairs.