During the sentencing for Walter Williams — who is not related to Owens' mother — Jowanna Williams lamented that his initial charge of third-degree murder was tossed out last year by another judge and that he was convicted in May of involuntary manslaughter.
"To me, the punishment does not fit the crime," she told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart, who convicted the defendant after a nonjury trial.
Minehart sentenced Williams, 27, to two to four years in state prison after he finishes serving about 2?1/2 to five years remaining on a five-to-10-year sentence for a drug-conviction probation violation.
Defense attorney Robert Marc Gamburg had asked that Williams receive a one-to-two-year sentence that he could serve concurrently with his probation-violation sentence, calling Owens' death the result of "a freak type of injury." Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley asked for the sentence that Owens ultimately received. He told Minehart that Williams had racked up five arrests as a juvenile, four adult convictions, three violations of probation and three probation revocations.
"Nothing seems to be able to rehabilitate this individual," O'Malley said.
Williams could be heard quarreling with Gamburg at the start of the hearing as the judge entered the courtroom, leading to his brief removal. After deputy sheriffs reseated him, Williams apologized to Owens' family, telling them that if he could have, he would have moved the young woman out of the way during the fight. Williams hit Owens in the head, causing her neck to twist and the vertebral artery to tear. She died later that day.
The fight between Williams and his brother against Owens' boyfriend, Jules Johnson, the father of her unborn child, was the result of a feud that had been simmering for months. Canda, 30, pleaded guilty in May to simple assault on Johnson, and Minehart sentenced him to a year of probation.
"This is what happens when people do not act in a civilized manner in our city," Minehart told Williams.
Contact Mensah M. Dean at 215-568-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mensahdean.