A judge on Monday gave an attorney for condemned killer Shedran Williams until April 22 to spell out why he believes Williams deserves a new trial in the 2004 shooting death of Baton Rouge Police Lt. Vickie Wax.
Williams, now 41, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006. The Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence in 2009.
Williams’ appeals are now in the post-conviction relief stage, where defense attorneys typically seek to raise broad, constitutional issues to demonstrate that the trial was unfair. The constitutional issues often deal with alleged improper actions of attorneys or flawed decisions by judges.
Williams, who pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity at his Baton Rouge trial, filed what is commonly referred to as a “shell” petition for post-conviction relief and request for counsel in June 2010. The petition outlined, with no specific details, why he should be retried.
Williams contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel at the guilt and penalty phases of his trial and in his appeal to the state Supreme Court. He also alleges prosecutorial misconduct and claims he was not tried before a neutral and unbiased judge.
With Williams present Monday in the courtroom, Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana Director Gary Clements asked state District Judge Mike Erwin for an additional eight months to file Williams’ application for post-conviction relief. Clements noted his current workload, which includes the post-conviction relief case of condemned Baton Rouge mass murderer Anthony Bell.
Prosecutor Dylan Alge objected to Clements’ request, saying three to four months should suffice rather than eight months.
“We would like to see this matter done as expeditiously as possible,” Alge argued.
In the end, Erwin granted Clements’ request and set an April 22 filing deadline.
“It’s the normal process,” Clements said after court.
In a previous court filing in Williams’ case, Clements said each capital post-conviction case requires an average of 3,300 attorney hours to prepare and litigate.
Williams was found guilty in March 2006 in the May 22, 2004, shooting death of Wax, 51, while she was working a security detail at a now-closed Walmart near Perkins Road and Acadian Thruway.
A store detective sought Wax’s assistance after noticing that Williams was leaving the business without paying for two cameras in his back pockets. Williams seized Wax’s pistol, fatally shot her, wounded the detective and another witness, then bolted from the store and hijacked a car in the parking lot, according to the Supreme Court’s summary of the case. Williams later surrendered.