A Charleston man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court. Twenty-four year old Richard Hilliard admitted he shot and killed 26-year-old David Booker, a passenger in his vehicle, back on October 11th.
The victim’s body was found on Milton Street. He was rushed to CAMC but died at the hospital. An arrest warrant for Hilliard wasn’t issued until December 19th.
In order to speed up the judicial process, Hilliard agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and wasn’t indicted for the crime. Instead he entered the plea to voluntary manslaughter and faces 3-15 years behind bars when he’s sentenced next month.
As part of the plea deal, Hilliard had to recount what happened the night of the shooting. He says he and Andre Williamson had been hanging out on Charleston East End when they decided to head over to the West Side. That’s when Booker asked for a ride. Hilliard says he was hesitant to let him in the car but Williamson convinced him it was OK.
“I was kind of leery about it and Andre was like, “Well, we can give him a ride. He’s not a threat to us.’”
According to Hilliard, Booker, who was in the back seat, decided he didn’t want to go to the West Side and asked them to take him back to the East End to Milton St.
“I asked him where he was going, which house is he going to. And [Booker] pulls out a weapon and he puts it to [Williamson's] head,” says Hilliard. “That’s when I reacted and shot him.”
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach, reminded the judge that Booker was not the first to pull a gun that night.
“Andre Williamson, also known as A3, at some point before, had pulled out a gun and was going to react and possibly shoot David Booker but the gun fell in the car,” explain Giggenbach. “And after the defendant saw [Williamson's] gun fall, the defendant reacted by shooting David Booker.”
There were a couple of reasons why the prosecutor’s office agreed to the plea deal. One of them was what was in Booker’s system at the time of the crime.
“David Booker, according to the medical examiner, at the time of all this, was intoxicated on cocaine, marijuana, Alprazolam and alcohol.”
Booker was a known drug user and had also been convicted of two prior non-related homicides. Prosecutors say Booker would not have been a very sympathetic victim had the case gone to trial, hence the plea.
Hilliard’s sentencing is set for April 18th.