Florida Man Arrested for Murder Within One Day of Early Release From Prison to ‘Help Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus’

A man in Florida has been arrested with the charge of murder just one day after he was freed from jail to ‘help prevent the spread of coronavirus.’

Joseph Williams, 26, was initially booked into Orient Road Jail on March 13 for possession of heroin (less than four grams), a third-degree felony, and possession drug paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.

But on March 19 Williams was one of 164 inmates deemed low-risk who was allowed to leave custody following the issuance of Administrative Order 2020-018 which allows people to go free early to decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19 in crowded facilities.

He left the Hillsborough County jail at 8.02am but by 10.40pm the next day, police were called to the scene of 8000 block of Ash Avenue in Tampa where a man had been shot dead.

Williams is believed to be responsible for the second-degree murder. 


‘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.’

Just days after Williams entered jail, Chronister had said at a media briefing they were releasing more than 100 inmates for the safety of fellow jailers and staff.

Early release is a move that jails around the country have opted for to slow the spread of the virus.

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