EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons announced Tuesday that Terril J. Williams, 35, was sentenced to two concurrent natural life sentences for the murder of two juveniles in January 1997.
“I am thankful for Judge Schroeder’s decision to impose the maximum sentence allowed in this case,” Gibbons said in a press release. “The families of the victims provided powerful testimony of the anguish and pain caused by the defendant. 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.”
Williams was originally convicted of two counts of first-degree murder by a Madison County jury on Feb. 5, 1998, following a trial in Edwardsville. Jurors heard evidence presented by Assistant State’s Attorney Keith Jensen supporting the state’s charges that Williams shot and killed Darryl A. Womack and James E. Patterson Jr. on Jan. 30, 1997. Autopsy results confirmed that both victims suffered fatal gunshot wounds consistent with witness testimony. Circuit Judge Charles Romani issued Williams’ original sentence on April 28, 1998, of two concurrent natural life sentences with no possibility of parole.
The shootings happened at the Belle Manor apartment complex in Alton.
On Dec. 7, 2015, the Fifth District Appellate Court, following the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama, found Williams’ sentence of mandatory natural life without parole in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because the defendant was a juvenile at the time of his conviction. Williams’ case was reversed and remanded to Madison County for re-sentencing.
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. First Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Mudge and Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Heischmidt presented evidence supporting the state’s argument that the necessary aggravating factors were present in this case for the original sentence of natural life imprisonment to be the appropriate sentence.
Gibbons thanked Mudge, Heischmidt, Jensen, the Alton Police Department and all of the investigative personnel for their hard work on the case.