Minehart railed against the brawl Williams started on Feb. 7, 2011, outside Traffic Court at Eighth and Spring Garden Streets: "This is what happens when people can't act civilized."
Williams, a slight, rail-thin man with a bushy black beard, apologized to Owens' family and his own, and told the judge, "I wish I could have taken that punch instead of her."
Williams was arrested after he and his brother and others accidentally encountered Owens and her boyfriend as they left the Traffic Court building shortly before 2 p.m.
Owens' boyfriend and Williams' brother had been feuding, and, according to Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley, Williams instigated a confrontation that quickly went from verbal to physical. Williams threw a punch and hit Owens' head.
The blow caused Owens' head to twist and tore an artery to her brain. She died an hour later.
Owens' mother, Jowanna Williams, made a tearful victim-impact statement describing her daughter as a hardworking young woman who had been employed since she was 15.
Jowanna Williams said Owens had earned a certificate as a pharmacy technician, and worked at a local drugstore and was working on a degree in criminal justice.
She criticized an earlier pretrial ruling reducing the charge against Walter Williams, no relation, from third-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter: "The punishment does not fit the crime."
Emotions ran high in the courtroom and afterward erupted in shouts between partisans for victim and defendant that ended with deputies separately escorting the groups from the courthouse.
Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, email@example.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.