Original article no longer available
Jan 16, 2006
There are stunning new developments in the case of a man accused of robbing several women at gunpoint.
The suspect is 67-years-old, and he’s never been in trouble a day in his life, until now.
A judge set Henry Williamson’s bond at $500,000 for having a gun and running from police. Williamson’s family says this came out of nowhere.
“It had to have been something with his mental state. My son had a wrestling match this weekend; my dad was there to watch his grandson wrestle,” says Marlon Williamson.
It’s easy to understand why the family is so distraught. Williamson is 67-years-old and he worked as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Trumbull County for 20 years, but police say this past week, Williamson went on a crime spree.
He’s accused of robbing a woman at gunpoint in a north Columbus parking lot Wednesday. Police say Williamson tried to escape in his getaway car, but lost control on Cooper Road.
Investigators say Williamson confessed to four armed robberies.
Marlon Williamson says, “It’s just totally out of my dad’s character. Everybody loves my dad. He’s a caring, understanding person…never did anybody wrong. I don’t understand it.”
Family members say Williamson has struggled with depression over a battle with cancer and he’s taking several different medications.
If he’s responsible for a string of armed robberies, Williamson’s son is sorry for the victims and just as sorry for his dad.
“I feel sorry for those people who went through that but this is not my dad’s character, he is not that type of person,” says Marlon Williamson.
Williamson is facing felony charges of kidnapping and armed robbery.
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The Columbis Dispatch
by John Futty
Ill inmate, 75, dies before release hearing | The Columbus Dispatch
Williamson was 68 and recovering from bladder cancer when he pleaded guilty to four incidents in which he abducted women at gunpoint in their cars in January 2006. Three were forced to drive to bank machines and withdraw money before they were released unharmed.
It was a bizarre turn for an Army veteran who had been a law-abiding husband, father and grandfather. He had retired after two decades as an auxiliary deputy in Trumbull County and moved in with one of his children in Franklin County. His family believes that medicine he was taking for the cancer caused him to do out-of-character things.
Williamson faced up to 42 years in prison, but Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook said he considered Williamson’s health and advanced age, as well as his service to the community, in imposing a lesser sentence.
“I feel like I just handed out a death sentence to this man,” Holbrook said from the bench when he was sentenced.
Williamson’s death comes two weeks before he was scheduled for a court hearing on a request for early release from prison.
His family, concerned that he wouldn’t survive until the Oct. 15 hearing, had hoped the date could be moved up.
Tina Williamson, his daughter, called his death in prison a “failure of the justice system.”
A registered nurse, she is convinced that drugs prescribed for her father’s health problems caused psychiatric problems that led to the crimes.
She and her four siblings learned recently that the cancer had spread throughout his body and he was being moved to hospice care at the Franklin Medical Center, she said. Williamson’s attorney submitted a motion for judicial release on Sept. 16.
Holbrook said yesterday that he couldn’t hold the hearing any earlier because the law requires that prosecutors contact all victims to give them an opportunity to attend. There was no guarantee that the judge would have approved judicial release.
“I wasn’t committed one way or the other,” he said.
Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said last week that his office was planning to object to Williamson’s release.
“The nine years were important to us,” he said. “This was a very horrendous series of crimes with multiple victims.”
The fourth victim was Columbus lawyer Kristen McKinley, who is on the Nov. 5 ballot as a candidate for Franklin County Municipal Court judge.
She was a vocal critic of the sentence, saying it was too lenient.
But yesterday, McKinley said: “It saddens me that he passed away in prison. It makes me sad for his family.”
After learning in recent days that Williamson was near death, McKinley doubts she would have objected to his release at the hearing.
“I was considering agreeing with letting him out to be with his family,” she said.