Inmate Freed Due to Virus Allegedly Went on to Kill

Florida man accused of murder day after release
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2020 1:31 PM CDT
Inmate Freed Due to Virus Charged With Murder
Joseph Edward Williams.   (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida inmate released from jail due to the coronavirus pandemic is accused of murdering somebody the next day. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Joseph Edward Williams, who was being held on drug charges including possession of heroin, was released under an emergency order freeing certain pretrial detainees who were believed to pose no threat to public safety, USA Today reports. Williams was allegedly involved in the shooting death of a man on March 20, the day after his release. He was arrested Monday and is now being held on $280,500 bond on charges including second-degree murder, possession of a firearm, and resisting an officer with violence.

Authorities say Williams is the only inmate in the county known to have committed a crime after being freed under the emergency order. The sheriff's office says that at the time of Williams' release, he needed only to pay $250 in order to be freed on bond, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says authorities around the country are struggling to balance public safety concerns with the need to protect inmates and deputies from COVID-19. "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," he says. (Read more Florida stories.)

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