Man released from jail amid coronavirus concerns is arrested on a murder charge
(CNN) — Amid rising concerns of the coronavirus being spread in a Florida jail, many inmates were released early, including Joseph Williams.
Now, the 26-year-old is back behind bars for several new charges including second-degree murder with a firearm, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Williams was originally arrested March 13 for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He was one of more than 100 inmates released March 19 to curb the spread of the virus in detention centers and protect inmates and staff.
A day after being released, the sheriff’s office says, Williams became the suspect of a murder case.
“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,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.
“Every murder, every violent crime, especially those involving a gun, is a sickening example of the worst in our community, especially at a time when our community is working relentlessly to fight against the spread of this deadly COVID-19.”
Court records show Williams is being held in jail without bond. CNN called the public defender’s office, which is representing Williams, for comment but has not heard back.
On March 20, police investigating reports of gunshots in a Tampa neighborhood found a man who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to CNN affiliate WFLA.
Williams was arrested Sunday in connection with the case. In addition to second-degree murder, he is facing several new charges including resisting an officer, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.
“Judges, prosecutors, and Sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety,” said Chronister. “Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak.”
Williams has a lengthy criminal record that shows he has been arrested for 35 charges, according to the sheriff’s office.