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Eyewitnesses testify at trial

March 16, 2011
By MARK LAW, staff writer

STEUBENVILLE - The murder trial of Rasool Hassan Williams, 33, of 234 N. Eighth St. on Tuesday included testimony from two eyewitnesses who said they saw Williams shoot a man in the 200 block of North Eighth Street.

Williams is charged with the April 20 shooting death of Charles King Jr., 29, of Steubenville in the 200 block of North Eighth Street.

Williams is charged with murder, with a firearm specification, and having a firearm as a convicted drug offender.

Article Photos

ON THE DEFENSE — Rasool Hassan Williams, 33, of 234 N. Eighth St., seated, talks with his defense attorney, Steven Stickles, during a break in Williams’ murder trial on Tuesday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. Williams is charged with the April 20 shooting death of Charles King Jr., 29, of Steubenville in the 200 block of North Eighth Street.
-- Mark Law

Williams was living at 234 N. Eighth St. and with his girlfriend at a residence in Toronto, but went to New Rochelle, N.Y., after the shooting, police reported. Williams was arrested in New Rochelle on May 17 without incident after a murder warrant was issued in Steubenville.

Even though the eyewitness said they saw Williams shot King, William's defense attorney, Steven Stickles, said there was an altercation prior to what he indicated was a self-defense shooting.

Stickles said King struck Williams in the back of the head that morning and threatened to kill Williams.

"Charles King placed (Williams) in a situation where he had two choices. The first choice was to die. The second choice was to live," Stickles said.

Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said Williams is a "cold-blooded killer."

"He shot him (Charles King) five times before killing him," Hanlin said.

Ronald May of 247 N. Ninth St. said he heard yelling around 7:20 a.m. on April 20 near his home. He looked out and saw King walking away from Williams, with both men yelling at each other. May said he saw King turn around and go after Williams. Williams was walking backward when he fired his gun, May said.

May said he could hear King screaming. "He's screaming for his life."

May said Williams went back inside the house at 234 N. Eighth St., fooled around with the gun, come back out and shoot King again.

"I could see him walk up and fire more shots and then (King) wasn't screaming anymore," May said.

The witness said he saw Williams go back inside the house at 234 N. Eighth St., come back out and run away.

Bethlum Frye of 235 N. Eighth St. said he heard talking outside his house on April 20 and then gunshots.

He looked outside and heard King saying, "I can't believe you shot me."

Frye said he then called 911 for help.

Frye said he saw King stumble around and fall to the ground. He said King was moaning and then the moaning stopped. He said King was on the ground with his arms spread out "like Jesus on the cross."

Frye identifed Williams as the shooter.

Ten witnesses were called to the stand on Tuesday, with about two dozen more expected to be called by the prosecution and defense. The trial is expected to last through Friday before Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr.

Witness testimony Tuesday included Laceya Lavender, who now lives in Columbus, who was King's girlfriend and mother of his child. Lavender said she met Williams several weeks before the shooting. Williams had traveled by cab to Lavender's Wintersville apartment about five hours prior to the shooting. Lavender said she didn't have a physical relationship with Williams.

Lavender admitted that King could be an intimidating person.

King was living at the time with his sister, Latoya King, in the Market Square Apartments, across Washington Street from where the shooting occurred.

A cab driver was called to the stand who said he picked up Williams at the Wintersville apartment around 6:22 a.m. on April 20 and drove him to North Eighth Street in Steubenville.

Latoya King testified she heard her brother leave the apartment around 6 a.m. on April 20.

Kathy Taylor of 234 N. Eighth St. is the aunt of Sabrina Isaac, the girlfriend of Williams and mother of his child. She said Williams slept at her house on occasion.

She said she was at the hospital with her husband on April 20 and called for Isaac to pick her up. She said Williams was in the vehicle when Isaac arrived around 7:45 a.m. They all traveled to Isaac's place in Toronto, where Williams changed his clothes. They then went back to Steubenville, where Williams got out of the car in the Franklin Avenue area. Taylor said Williams was scheduled to appear in Steubenville Municipal Court that morning.

Stickles said he represented Williams on a DUI charge and both were in the City Building at 10 a.m. on April 20.

Stickles told the jury that Williams had planned to go to New Rochelle, where he had once lived and worked.

(Law can be contacted at

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