COLUMBIA — After more than three hours of deliberation, a jury recommended a 12-year sentence for a Columbia teen's involvement in a parking garage assault and robbery downtown in June.
Charles Williams III, 17, convicted Thursday of second-degree robbery, is the first of three men charged in the "Knock Out King" robbery, which was caught on the surveillance cameras. He faced a sentence of five to 15 years.
This was not the first time Williams had been in trouble with law. Prosecutor Richard Hicks pointed out the defendant's history of "theft and violence" to the jury. In April 2009, Columbia police responded to a disturbance call in which Williams was accused of verbally threatening a woman.
"The level of his criminal activity keeps rising as he gets older," Hicks said in his closing argument. "Fifteen years will send the message to Williams that he needs to change."
Defense attorney Harry Williams (no relation) argued that his client was "thrown into a jungle, where you learn to survive or die." But it was not enough for a lenient sentence.
After sentencing, Williams shook his head and looked back into the gallery, where victim Adam Taylor and his family were seated. The jury sat solemnly while Judge Kevin Crane read the decision. Although he was pushing for the maximum sentence, Hicks said he was satisfied with the outcome.
The Taylor family expressed relief that the trial was over. "It’s going to be very hard to go through this again two more times," Karen Taylor, Adam Taylor's mother, said. "But we’re a strong family and we rely on each other."
Adam Taylor believes the surveillance cameras played a large role in the conviction. His family is now fighting to get the City Council to reconsider funding the installation of security cameras downtown. Taylor said he wishes to "take this traumatic event and make something positive out of it."
For the final disposition, Crane said he can go below the recommended 12-year sentence but not above it. The disposition will take place at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 23.
The other two men charged, Lee Barney, 19, and Walter Jones, 18, will be tried separately. Hicks had no comment on their trials.
Missourian reporters Mina Mineva and Gregg Johnson contributed to this report.