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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Jail gunman charged in 94 slaying of woman

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A man accused of committing three murders and getting a handgun in the Lucas County jail last month and firing it at a corrections officer was charged yesterday with the shooting death eight years ago of a 29-year-old woman.

Prentiss Williams, 24, was charged with the murder of Shelley Renee Johnson, who was found shot to death July 28, 1994, in a vehicle in central Toledo.

Because the crime occurred when Williams was 15 years old, he was charged in Lucas County Juvenile Court with delinquency in connection with murder. Williams will be arraigned tomorrow in Juvenile Court.

Tom Ross, an investigator with the county prosecutor s office, said Mrs. Johnson was shot in the head while she sat in a sport utility vehicle in the 1500 block of Vance Street. “We had been looking into the crime for a long time,” Mr. Ross said.

In the hours before Mrs. Johnson was shot, police pursued Williams in a stolen car, a chase that ended when Williams got out of the vehicle and fled on foot.

Mr. Ross said Williams is accused of killing Mrs. Johnson because he believed she told police he was involved in a crime, and police initiated the pursuit to arrest him.

Williams, of the 2800 block of Albion Street, is to go on trial next week for the May, 1994, shooting death of Robert Hendricks.

Williams was indicted last December for Mr. Hendricks murder. The 37-year-old Toledo city employee was found shot to death in a crack house on Nesslewood Avenue.

Because the shooting of Mr. Hendricks also occurred when Williams was 15, he was charged with delinquency in connection with murder. Lucas County Juvenile Judge James Ray certified that Williams should be tried as an adult Nov. 19, 2002. Williams does not face the death penalty in that case.

The murders of Mr. Hendricks and Mrs. Johnson had gone unsolved for many years, but the cold-case unit reopened the investigations.

The cold-case unit includes members of the Toledo police, the county prosecutor s office, the FBI, county coroner s office, and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

Williams was released from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility on parole April 25, 2002, after serving six years and three months on a six-to-15-year sentence for felonious assault and receiving stolen property.

Williams is charged in the May, 2002, shooting deaths of Carmita Dickey and Jonathon Booker. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of the murders of Ms. Dickey and Booker.

Ms. Dickey, 30, was gunned down May 25, 2002, as she sat in her car near Ottawa Park.

Toledo police issued arrest warrants for Williams and Booker, 24, of Birckhead Place, in Ms. Dickey s death. Early on May 26, 2002, Booker was found shot to death in the 1300 block of Thatcher Drive.

Police issued a warrant for Williams arrest in the Booker murder. He remained at large until June 21, 2002, when he was arrested after a vehicle in which he was riding was stopped for a traffic violation in Columbus.

Williams also is facing charges for an Oct. 14 incident in which he fired a 9mm handgun that had been smuggled into the jail s sixth floor, the facility s maximum-security unit.

Williams was at a maintenance closet when he pulled the gun on the officer. In an ensuing struggle, Williams fired the gun twice, but the officer subdued Williams and persuaded him to drop the gun. No one was hurt in the incident.



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