CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “You didn’t just kill him, you killed me that night as well,” a Kanawha County woman told her fiance’s shooter in court before he was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for second degree murder.
Lisa Ratliff spoke about her fiance Joe Williams, 34, in Kanawha County Circuit Court Thursday. Williams was shot and killed by Ratliff’s uncle Keith Jones, 61, of Rand.
“I’m not here today for you and I’m definitely not here for myself today. I’m here today to give Joe Eddie Williams his last voice that he solely deserved. And you sir, are a true monster,” Ratliff told Jones while wiping away tears.
The shooting occurred on Sept. 29, 2016 at a home on Elaine Drive in Rand. It was Jones’ birthday and alcohol was involved. Police said Jones fired a single shot at Williams, striking him in the head following an argument. Jones’ attorney Ronni Sheets told the court Thursday her client does not remember the incident.
“Mr. Jones has no recollection of the shooting nor the entire day,” Sheets told the judge. “What happened was a tragedy, your honor. Obviously, it’s something that Mr. Jones wish had never happened, but he can’t take back.”
The defense asked Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom for a 20 year sentence to be served on home confinement as Jones, who is disabled, sat in wheelchair inside the courtroom.
“Take in consideration his age, his health, his lack of criminal record, the excessive drinking throughout that day and how quickly things turned in that moment,” Sheets said.
Police said Jones shot Williams with a .38 special revolver. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy found that Williams was shot at extremely close range.
Ratliff said it happened in the living room of the home after she stepped out. She was left to clean up the mess.
“Not one person in this courtroom knows what it’s like to have to clean up your soulmate,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “I am a shattered woman.”
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Marisa Griska said Jones pulled out his gun without any regard to human life.
“The way the defendant killed Joe Eddie Williams that night is the way a person disposes of a bug — it was in the blink of an eye, it was without second thought and it was without any remorse. What happened that day was a ruthless, merciless and reprehensible murder,” Griska said.
Before Judge Bloom sentenced Jones he told him there is no excuse for what he did.
“You got into an argument with the decedent. That’s your statement, your view of the case. That does not justify by any stretch of the imagination shooting somebody in the head and killing them,” Bloom said.
Jones was originally charged with first degree murder with use of a firearm, but he cut a plea deal with prosecutors instead and pleaded guilty to second degree murder. Prosecutors said that’s because there was not any evidence to show premeditation by Jones before the shooting.
Ratliff said she hopes to never have to see or hear from her uncle again.
“After today, your name will never be said by me or around me ever again. You’re already a ghost to me,” she said.