LAWTON, Okla. — A Fort Sill soldier pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder for starving a 10-year-old boy to death.
Connell C. Williams, 33, will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
His plea came after prosecutors withdrew their request for the death penalty. The plea also ended his jury trial after two days of testimony.
The murder victim, Marcus Holloway, died May 5, 2011, of severe malnutrition. The boy weighed 44 pounds the day he died.
His mother, Candice C. Holloway, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last year and agreed to serve 30 years in federal prison. She lived with Williams in military housing at Fort Sill. Both are from Virginia.
She testified against Williams on Friday.
Williams admitted after the boy's death that Marcus “had been on food restrictions as a form of punishment since January 2011,” the state Department of Human Services reported.
“Ms. Holloway reported Marcus was fed rice cakes, cereal bars and given water to drink on most days,” DHS reported. “Ms. Holloway admitted she and Mr. Williams would hit Marcus on the buttocks, legs and head with a belt, plastic bat or drumsticks when he was disrespectful or would steal food. Ms. Holloway reported the night before Marcus died, Mr. Williams poured ice water over him as a form of punishment.
“She reported all she could recall Marcus eating the day before he died was a marshmallow pie.”
In a statement thanking jurors for their service, the trial judge, Stephen Friot, wrote he respectfully disagreed with the U.S. Justice Department's decision to drop the death penalty.
He told jurors that decision had to be personally approved by the U.S. attorney general. The judge wrote the decision did not appear to have been made at the local level.
“I am certain that no one person would have been better qualified than you, the jury in this case, to sit in judgment of Connell C. Williams and to determine the outcome of this case. In my view, in a case like this one, no decision by one person can command the moral force that your verdict would have commanded,” the judge wrote.