According to court documents Joseph Williams was making a plan to escape however the guards would learn of his plan. Williams believed that Michael Deal had told the guards about the plan and he would strangle the man causing his death
Joseph Williams would be convicted and sentenced to death
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MAJOR OFFENSE: MURDER
MOST RECENT INSTITUTION: GA DIAG CLASS PRISON
MAX POSSIBLE RELEASE DATE: DEATH
Joseph Williams Case
he evidence adduced in Williams’s sentencing trial showed that on July 24, 2001, Williams was a jail inmate at the Chatham County Detention Center. See OCGA § 17-10-30(b)(9) (“murder was committed by a person in, or who has escaped from, the lawful custody of a peace officer or place of lawful confinement”). Seven other inmates, including Michael Deal, were being held in the same unit as Williams. Williams and four of the other inmates, Leon McKinney, Pierre Byrd, Michael Wilson, and John McMillan, discovered a loose window and used an improvised chisel to chip away at the wall around it. Deal inquired what the men were doing but left when he was told “to mind his own business.”
Williams and other inmates began to suspect that Deal had informed, or was going to inform, the jail authorities about the escape plan. McKinney suggested stabbing Deal with the improvised chisel, but Williams objected that there would be too much blood and that their plan would be frustrated. The group then carried out an alternative plan to strangle Deal and make the killing appear to be a suicide. McKinney engaged Deal in a discussion about their relative body sizes and then, facing Deal, lifted him in a “bear hug.” Williams then began strangling Deal from behind with an Ace bandage. Deal fell to the floor but did not immediately lose consciousness. The evidence is unclear whether it was Wilson or Byrd, but one of those two men then assisted Williams by taking one end of the Ace bandage and completing the strangulation in a “tug-of-war.” Byrd invited Anthony King, an inmate who had been friendly with Deal, into Byrd’s cell to distract King as Deal’s body was moved. Williams then dragged Deal’s body to Deal’s cell, flushed the Ace bandage down the toilet, cleaned up blood and hair on the floor with a rag, flushed the rag, tied a bed sheet around Deal’s neck, and finally, with the assistance of McKinney and McMillan, lifted Deal’s body and tied the bed sheet to a grate in the ceiling to make the death appear to be a suicide.
After the murder, Williams and Byrd favored also killing King and Dewey Anderson, but McKinney and McMillan objected. Byrd, later troubled by dreams about the victim, contacted his attorney, passed a note about the murder to a jail guard, and then directed authorities to the improvised chisel, the loosened window, and a letter about the murder written to him by Williams. Williams confessed in an audiotaped interview conducted by a GBI agent.