Florida Inmate with Mile-Long Rap Sheet Accused of Murder After Being Released Due to COVID-19 Fears

Joseph Edward Williams was released from prison and is now being accused of murder. (Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

A Florida inmate with an extensive criminal history was released last month due to COVID-19 fears and is now being accused of committing second-degree murder.

Joseph Edward Williams, 26, had been released from prison in Hillsborough County six days after being arrested for heroin possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to NBC News.

In an effort to reduce the prison population and slow the spread of COVID-19, a state judge had authorized the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) “to release any pretrial detainee arrested for a municipal or county ordinance violation, a misdemeanor offense, a criminal traffic offense, or a third-degree felony offense.” The order does not prohibit inmates from being released if they have a violent criminal history beyond their current charges.

The HCSO released 164 inmates, one of whom was Williams.

On March 20, one day after Williams was released, a man was fatally shot in a community called Progress Village, and authorities believe Williams was involved.

“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “As a result, I call on the State Attorney to prosecute this defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”

SEE ALSO: WATCH: Homeowner Fights, Kills Intruder Wearing Medical Mask

“Judges, prosecutors, and Sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety,” Chronister continued. “Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak. Our commitment as an agency is to keep this community safe and enforce the law.”

Along with the second-degree murder charge, Williams was also charged with a gun-related offense and with resisting an officer.

Even though his latest charges were non-violent misdemeanors, Williams’ rap sheet includes arrests on 35 previous charges, according to a GunsAmerica search of the Hillsborough County criminal records.

Williams’ record, in part. (Photo: Screengrab from Hillsborough County Clerk’s website)

He was convicted for burglary of an unoccupied conveyance in 2012, opposing an officer with violence in 2015, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018. He has also been arrested for multiple aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon and battery on a law enforcement officer.

SEE ALSO: Clay’s COVID-19 Gun Buying Guide for Noobs Part IV: Dinosaur Tech and Space Age Sights

Counties across the country have released thousands of inmates to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. In Travis County, Texas, hundreds of inmates accused of felony crimes have been released. Los Angeles County has released over 4,000 inmates, and hundreds have been released from Cook County, Illinois.

Nationwide, more than 16,000 inmates have been released or diverted from local jails and state and federal prisons, according to the University of California, Los Angeles Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Steve in Detroit September 25, 2020, 5:59 am

    This is what Biden and the left wants, to turn U.S. into more of a shyte hole than it is already.

  • Dale Kehrer April 26, 2020, 6:14 pm

    I agree with Lawrence. Public hanging, but in the center of town from an American flag pole. For good measure we should do like my grandfather always said, hang 3 lawyers and a judge everyday until the country straightens out.

  • lawrence clark April 21, 2020, 12:40 pm

    he should be brought to the middle of town and hung

  • Alice Cokefair April 20, 2020, 2:07 pm

    For starters both the judge who signed this order and the sheriff that followed it should be listed as accessories to this murder as it never would have happened if THEY hadn’t failed to do their jobs. Next, the family of the victim should sue both these clowns for every cent they have.
    Attention Counties that desire to follow this idiotic practice- do so with one proviso- Tatoo EVERY released clown with a bullseye on their forehead, and make them practice targets for us law abiding citizens. At least that way they serve a purpose.

  • frank April 20, 2020, 12:44 pm

    When these dirt bags commit another crime after their release, the person who signed off for their release should be charged with that crime as punishment for their lame decision in doing so.

  • dave brown April 20, 2020, 12:22 pm

    I have been watching our world for 68 years now, and I have been shooting for 60 years. Of course most of my shooting ramped up at age 12, and at 16 I could do most anything in SD The Land Of The Free. Anyway, I have voted for 50 years and never much like the Right or The Left. I hope that c-19 may let more of USA see that both parties suck. FL is a Red State, yet I don’t really care if they are red or blue ro what ever. But, if they say and vote Right then act the part. Here they let this guy out so do we blame the right, or just blame the clown they let out. Blame is easy, working together for our common good seems to be getting harder. Free Your Mind Be Party Blind. God Bless US All.

  • Gary Lee April 20, 2020, 9:42 am

    I know a sure fire way to cut down the recidivism rate of career criminals!

  • Derrick Addis April 20, 2020, 8:23 am

    What drives me crazy is liberals want more gun laws but they don’t properly enforce the ones we have! “ …and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018.”.. in Florida this is a minimum 3 year sentence with maximum of 15 years. So he SHOULD have been in jail until 2021 sometime!! But what happens?! The states attorneys office REDUCE THOSE CHARGES DOWN so they don’t need to sentence them as long! It happens all the time! USSC.gov says there were over 84,000 cases charged but only 5,768 ppl were actually convicted! SO WHY MAKE MORE AND MORE GUN CONTROL LAWS IF YOURE NOT GOING TO ENFORCE THEM!!! The blood of this victim is on the states attorneys office and the judges that let someone back on the street with a rap sheet like that BEFORE all this covid shit went down.

  • michael April 19, 2020, 10:03 am

    Let them out of a prison with NO confirmed cases into society that has how many confirmed cases for their protection. Am I missing something here ? Insanity !

  • Rick April 18, 2020, 3:20 pm

    PUT THE IDIOTS THAT LET THEM OUT IN PRISON OR CUT THEIR HANDS OFF!!!

  • Dennis April 18, 2020, 12:05 pm

    The person responsible for releasing this dirt bag should also be charged with Murder and while we are at it charge the Governor also. These Politicians never take responsibility for their actions. They get a free pass. This needs to change. There’s one law for the people and no law for the Politicians.

  • Beachhawk April 17, 2020, 6:57 pm

    Gee, we wouldn’t want this murderous thug to catch covid-19. It might make the sheriff look bad before the election. We’d rather put the entire community at risk than keep a dangerous predator locked up. I’m glad the sheriff doesn’t also run the Tampa Bay zoos.

  • Spike April 17, 2020, 4:14 pm

    I live in this county, the sheriff was on the news today apologozing for this ridiculous blunder. There is no acceptable apology. You blew it Chad. They had no real policy for reviwing their previous records and basically just opened up the flood gates. He admitted they never throughly reviewed his prior arrest record, which was a mile long. You bet I’m carrying 24/7 inside and outside.

  • Singleshotcajun April 17, 2020, 3:29 pm

    The Burgermeister of Houston held a press conference asking criminals to take a break during the crisis then when everything is normal again just go back to business. Man , that Sylvester Turner is a genius. I can almost see Houston from my home. These days I carry all the time even while cutting my grass.

  • Gus April 17, 2020, 10:03 am

    And just how did you THINK this was going to turn out? We need to put COMMON SENSE back into our politics and stop letting liberal butt kissing make our policies.

    • maddog April 17, 2020, 11:45 am

      it’s also the gullible people (sheep) that are at fault. i commented about releasing inmates so they can rape and pillage again. i received multiple comments that only the non violent will be released. what good citizens they are, that actually believe the lying dirt bag politicians.

  • Tim April 17, 2020, 8:17 am

    Releasing non violent offenders with victimless crimes is not a bad idea. A guy who was arrested for pot or for not paying his speeding tickets or child support is usually not a threat to society. They really screwed up releasing someone with 35 previous charges. Hopefully if this ever happens again the state will be put more effort into vetting the guys getting a release.

    • Beachhawk April 17, 2020, 8:13 pm

      Before we release so-called non-violent offenders, we need to look past the surface. A person who repeatedly violates our traffic safety laws puts everyone who shares the streets and highways at a risk of death of serious bodily injury. Would we tolerate that same person if he or she was firing a gun in a crowd?

      How about the person arrested for selling drugs? Do they have any responsibility for the corruption where those drugs come from or who is killed or maimed in the production, transportation and distribution of those drugs? Buying drugs puts hard cash into the hands of local street gangs and ultimately major drug cartels.

      How about the guy who has a history of not paying child support or alimony. He puts the child and his former companion at risk and we as taxpayers must take up the slack and support that child and the child’s mother. How much does that behavior contribute to the social pathology especially in low-income and minority neighborhoods?

      I could go on and on about “non-violent” criminals but I’ll just leave you with a couple of ideas. Very few non-violent offenders who have committed one non-violent offense is sitting in jail, Those who are in jail are in there because they have demonstrated a total disregard for society’s behavioral norms and the rights of everyone else.

    • Andrew N. April 18, 2020, 1:52 am

      You would think so, right? On the surface, with the examples they give, doesn’t sound problematic. My brother, a prison guard, filled me in on the truth behind these “non-violent” offenders. To fall into that category, the offender will plea bargain down to a different crime to “save a trial / money” for the County. Sound familiar? Just like on TV. Gun crimes carry an additional stigma-No “Good Time”, time off for good behavior. So, they plea bargain and cop to a crime with a “longer” prison sentence, but one that allows for “Good Time”. They can plead to a 20 year sentence, and be out in 7 instead of the 15 yr sentence they were facing, that would have kept them incarcerated for 15 years. That’s why it doesn’t work. The “original” crime doesn’t “show” on their record, so vetting, unless the prisoner is well known, doesn’t do much for you. This also shows that the “authorities”, especially those in “blue” cities and States, don’t care about crime. The will put you in danger by releasing hardened criminals back onto the streets, while taking guns from law abiding citizens, disarming them and making them far easier targets. Trump, and every Republican running in 2020! If you like shit in your streets, and used syringes everywhere, by all means, vote “Dim”ocratic!

  • Dr. Manarii Tane April 17, 2020, 6:09 am

    These judges are sick. They should be put in jail with their criminals and no bail. So disgusting. And they wonder why law abiding tax paying citizens need the protection of a firearm. The judges are certainly not protecting citizens.

  • Paul Gawry April 16, 2020, 9:40 pm

    the judge and the Sheriff and anyone else involved in the irresponsible decision to release these people because of a “cold”, should be held personally and financially liable for their actions after release.
    I include the sheriff, because he dint have to let that guy out.

    • Higgs Boson April 17, 2020, 9:51 am

      Amen! Any sheriff or judge who participated in the “great lie” of 2020, and released inmates should be removed from office. Tough shit if they caught “the flu” in jail…

  • Walt Kleine April 16, 2020, 2:24 pm

    Thank you liberal DemocRATS! If you all had just HALF a brain, you could see how stupid this is to release felons while putting people into prison for driving in a car by themselves & a father playing ball with his daughter & wife in an empty park.

    • SD April 17, 2020, 2:21 pm

      This COVID 19 crap is nothing but a flu. Are we going to shut down the country every year or just when a republican is in the white house? George Soros would be proud.

  • Gerry April 16, 2020, 11:27 am

    More gun control means only criminals will have guns!

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend