Lawtey man held for 2007 murder


Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 11:12 p.m.

A Lawtey man, already in custody on unrelated charges, now has been linked to the 2007 shooting death of a Starke resident, police reported.

Jerry Lee Williams, 25, is accused of attempted robbery with a firearm, third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery with a firearm, the Starke Police Department reported.

Williams was being held at the Bradford County jail, where Deputy Kevin Mueller arrested him on the new charges Friday morning.

Officers allege Williams was the shooter in a drug-related robbery that led to the death of Edward Otis Smith Sr., 55.

The man was found at his home on July 31, 2007, and had been shot in the chest.

He later died from his wounds after he was transported to the hospital.

The motive in the shooting was robbery, said Starke Police Capt. Barry Warren. Investigators allege Williams went to Smith's home. Authorities believe another person first purchased drugs from Smith to verify he had drugs and money. Then, during the robbery attempted, Smith was shot, authorities say.

"It appears that they drove there pretty much for that purpose," to rob Smith, Warren said.

Police did not say if additional arrests could be pending in the case.

Officers had named a Gainesville man as a suspect in the case in August 2007 but he later was cleared, according to the State Attorney's Office. The prosecuting agency said the case's evidence did not support a second-degree murder charge against the man and the case was dropped.

Police reported that interviews and eyewitnesses led to their case against Williams. The information was submitted to the State Attorney's Office for review, resulting in a warrant for Williams' arrest earlier this month.

Williams had previously been jailed in October 2008 on charges of shoplifting and resisting arrest without violence, said Bradford County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Brad Smith.

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