FORT WAYNE – To those who dealt with him in the criminal justice system, it was no surprise Jamone Williams became the boy he did.
He grew up on a street known more for the drug trade than for anything else, inside a home officers would visit in pairs to protect themselves.
His father was once convicted of dealing crack cocaine; his mother was once convicted of theft.
Six of his half-brothers were in and out of the criminal justice system on various charges.
So when at age 12 Williams used a small chrome pistol to rob a man of $300 on the street one morning, many in law enforcement chalked it up to destiny.
When they determined Williams used a handgun five days later to shoot a prominent local youth activist three times – once in the head while the man lay on the ground – they were frightened.
Now, theyll find out what kind of man Williams has become.
Tried and convicted as an adult in the 1998 killing of 64-year-old Prince Chapman, Williams served nearly 12 years in the Indiana Department of Correction – much of it with the adult prison population.
Monday, hes scheduled to be released, and he is expected to report to the Fort Wayne parole district.
And while there will be some restrictions placed on him – including home detention for five years – it will be the first time as an adult that Williams, now 26, wont be confined to a cell.
‘You’re not a man’
For many, the shock of the killing was in its irony.
One of the men in the community who could have helped a boy like Jamone Williams – who would have helped – was Prince Chapman.
He was a man who mentored young fathers, who coached youth football and basketball and whose wife, Rosa, devoted her time to similar charitable work in the city.
But one November night, someone gunned Prince Chapman down on Chute Street, a half-block from the auto shop he owned for 40 years, leaving him to bleed to death on the pavement.
Two people – one a ninth-grade boy, the other a 13-year-old girl – would later tell police Williams wielded the gun and pulled the trigger while his twin brother, Jamarcus Williams, stood by.
In the aftermath, there was debate whether to charge Jamone as an adult or keep him in the juvenile system.
Some in the community, including this newspapers editorial page, argued rehabilitation would be impossible if he served his time with adults and other violent offenders.
Others pointed to his involvement in armed robbery at a young age – for which he spent time in a juvenile center – and the alarming cold-bloodedness of Chapmans killing as reasons to try him as an adult.
Ultimately, Allen Superior Court Judge Stephen Sims waived Williams to adult court. He based his decision partly on the findings of three health professionals who each described an aggression that showed no signs of abatement.
Without any doubt, this youth is and will remain a danger to himself and to society for years to come without proper intervention, wrote Dr. Theodore Petti, a psychiatrist who evaluated Williams.
While Williams at first denied killing Chapman – some police sources said the motive for the killing might have been a dare – he ended up pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
A plea agreement offered by Allen County prosecutors called for Williams to serve 25 years of a 40-year prison sentence, then serve five years on home detention and 10 years of probation upon his release.
One of the reasons for that plea was the hope that Jamone was young enough that there might still be a possibility that his conduct could be reformed, said Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who as a deputy prosecutor at the time worked on Williams case.
Williams is being released now because of time served for good behavior and education. Indiana law allows inmates one day of credit for each day served with good behavior, potentially cutting their sentences in half.
But his prison time wasnt always smooth.In 2000, Williams arm was broken during a scuffle with guards at a juvenile center where he was staying before being introduced to the adult population. Prison officials at the time said Williams attacked staff and needed to be subdued, and that the breaking of his arm was unintentional.
A year later, at age 15 and the youngest inmate in the Wabash Correctional Facility, he told the Indianapolis Star he was prepared to fight anyone who might attack him.
The older adults try to call you boy, and you say, F--- no, Im a man. Im in prison now. But in reality, youre not a man, he said.
And while he received a credit of 183 days to be taken off his sentence by getting his General Educational Development credential, he lost nearly a years worth of time for misbehavior, according to prison records.
His initial release date was scheduled for October of last year.
Thats a lengthy amount of time, Douglas Garrison, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Correction, said about the time lost for misbehaving.
Williams declined to be interviewed before his release.
Prison officials would not reveal where Williams will live, though local law enforcement will know.
Williams mother lives in a different home in a different neighborhood, relatively far from the streets where her son grew up.
But some of the lingering problems with law enforcement that have haunted the family for years remain.
My fear is he sees nothing wrong with the life hes led and he has no incentive to change, Richards said, noting the criminal pasts and current criminal cases involving his family members.
The family used to live in a two-story home at 607 E. Lewis St., across the street from a liquor store, now a gas station, in the heart of an area once rife with drugs and crime.
Its there that the Williams clan racked up charges of drug dealing, drug possession and armed robbery.
That house is now abandoned and condemned, along with several along that stretch of road.
Williams mother, Annette Williams, moved to a home in the Village Woods neighborhood off Hessen Cassel Road within the past few years.
Its a vibrant neighborhood with green lawns and high trees that line the streets.
Approached at her home, Annette Williams declined to be interviewed for this story. Asked whether Jamone was coming to live with her, she said: You dont need to know that.
Over the years, the extended Williams family has been known to law enforcement officials.
While charges against him were eventually dropped, Darrell A. Williams, Jamones father, was arrested and accused of being involved in one of three large drug rings busted by federal agents last year.
Several of Jamone Williams half-brothers have also continued to have run-ins with the law in recent years, according to court and police records.
Three of them – Booker T. Sewell, Jermorris Sewell and Antonio T. Sewell – were all arrested in connection with the same federal investigation that ensnared his father.
Booker Sewell was convicted in federal court by a jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm and maintaining drug-involved premises. He is awaiting sentencing. Antonio Sewell and Jermorris Sewell were both charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs. Their cases are still winding through the federal court system.
Another half-brother, Darrick Pinkston, was sentenced in 2005 to 115 years in prison for shooting and killing two people in the parking lot of a bar at the now-torn-down Southtown Mall.
Another half-brother, Darrell Pinkston, was shot and killed in the middle of the night behind a Holiday Inn in 2005.
Half-brother Jermarris Sewell died at a local hospital of undisclosed causes at age 21 several years ago.
Williams twin brother, Jamarcus, wont even be there to see him released. Hes serving time at the Westville Correctional Facility for theft, receiving stolen property and being a habitual offender. His release date is set for October, according to prison records.
Less than two months after Williams first recorded robbery at age 12, Jamarcus did one of his own, using a gun to knock off a fast food restaurant. He served time for that at the Wood Youth Center, now the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center.
Some families, when theyve been in (prison) like that, you can almost look and see the future and how things will end up, said Robert Schmoll, an Allen Superior Court senior judge who dealt with Jamone and Jamarcus Williams while they were juveniles.
Too early to tell
At his sentencing for the Chapman killing, Jamone Williams remained silent.
By then he was 14, and he sat still as his attorney apologized to Chapmans family. He didnt move while seven members of that family spoke, none of them asking for vengeance or showing bitterness.
He listened as they prayed in the courtroom.
He showed no emotion when Chapmans widow addressed him or when she gave him a copy of the Bible before he learned his fate from a judge.
That judge, Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull, ended the hearing with these words:
When you get out, youre either going to be one scary son of a bitch or youre going to be rehabilitated, she said.
Some of the law enforcement officials who have dealt with him said its too early to tell which way that pendulum might swing.
I think its going to be an uphill battle, but you know, if he wants to change, the system is going to provide the support to allow him to do that, Richards said.
She and others, though, say its rare for people with that kind of past to turn their lives around.
It doesnt happen real damn often, Schmoll said.
Williams will have a chance to become that rarity.