Metro-East News

Convicted murderer re-sentenced in Madison County after reversal

A 35-year-old man was re-sentenced to two concurrent natural life sentences Tuesday in Madison County for the murder of two juveniles in Jan. 1997.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons identified the defendant as Terril J. Williams in a press release. Williams was originally found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder by a Madison County jury on Feb. 5, 1998 following a trial in Edwardsville. Williams was convicted in the shooting deaths of Darryl A. Womack and James E. Patterson Jr. and sentenced to two concurrent natural life sentences with no possibility of parole on April 28, 1998.

The sentencing hearing on Tuesday came following a 2012 Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama and a subsequent reversal in the 5th District Appellate Court. The appellate court last December found Williams’ sentence of mandatory natural life without parole was in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because the defendant was a juvenile — 16-years-old — at the time of his conviction.

Associate Judge Neil Schroeder heard testimony from former Alton Police Chief David Hayes, who assisted in the investigation, as well as several family members of both victims. Gibbons said First Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Mudge and Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Heischmidt presented evidence supporting the state’s argument.

“I am thankful for Judge Schroeder’s decision to impose the maximum sentence allowed in this case. The families of the victims provided powerful testimony of the anguish and pain caused by the defendant,” Gibbons said. “They should be an incredible inspiration to us all. The strength of their faith allows them to forgive these terrible crimes, but the law should never forget what the defendant did. This was a heinous and cold-blooded murder of two teenage boys, and the only proper sentence short of execution was life in prison.”

Kaitlyn Schwers: 618-239-2526, @kaitlynschwers