A 22-year-old North Charleston man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday night after a jury found him guilty of killing another man after a drug deal.
The jury deliberated for more than 15 hours over two days before finding Jalann Lee Williams, 20, of Stall Road, guilty of murder and possession of a firearm. The jury was hung on a charge of armed robbery, and the charge was dismissed.
Williams and Robert Mitchell II, 33, of Yeamans Hall Road in Hanahan - who testified against him at trial - were both charged after the shooting death of Akeen Jamal Ladson, 21, of Angel Court. Ladson was found dead Jan. 31, 2013, inside a crashed Ford Expedition near 6852 Ward Ave., according to an incident report. The three met to conduct a drug transaction.
Williams' attorney, Christopher L. Murphy, argued that the shooting was self-defense in "a drug deal gone bad." He said there was no robbery that took place. Williams also took the stand and told the jury that the killing was an accident.
Prosecutors Greg Voigt and David Osborne, from the 9th Judicial Circuit, argued that it was an intentional killing as part of an armed robbery.
Williams fainted as Judge R. Lawton McIntosh read his sentence, but came to shortly after. He faced life in prison, which is what Ladson's family pleaded for.
"Regardless of what his choices were, he didn't deserve to have his life taken away," said his aunt, who stood to address the court before sentencing. "(Williams) has no remorse, please give him the max, please."
She was very emotional as she described no longer being able to celebrate her sister's birthday because it was the day Ladson was killed.
"That's what we have to celebrate every year," she cried. "We'll never see him again."
Ladson's girlfriend, who was in the car with him when he was killed, also spoke at the hearing.
"I lost my best friend," she said, wiping her eyes. "I feel like (Williams) had no regard for human life and I also ask that he get the max - a life for a life, not in the same way."
Williams' mother stood up and apologized to Ladson's family and said that the shooting was an accident.
After initially declining to make a statement, Williams told the judge just before sentencing that he was remorseful, but that he didn't think it was fair that he was guilty for the crime, because he never meant to kill Ladson.
"I have a family too, I have two little boys that I will never see again," he said. "It's not that I'm not remorseful, it's just that I lost everything too."
Murphy said they plan to appeal the case.
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.