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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Florida Youth Sentenced To Life In Prison

On April 14, 1995, a thin, bald man known only as "Rick" sat on Stella Whitehead's couch and instructed 15-year-old Jude Williams to rape and kill the 76-year-old woman inside her Cocoa home.

Rick had told Jude to do things before and even threatened to harm Jude's mother if he told anyone.

Now Jude is in the 16th year of a life sentence in prison, while Rick -- his own personal Mr. Hyde -- torments him as a personality fragment living in his mental illness.

Williams was diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder in 1986 and spent eight months in a mental hospital. Several psychologists testified shortly after the murder that he also suffered from dissociative identity disorder and multiple personalities.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison for non-murderous crimes. While three Florida juveniles have been resentenced, the ruling offers no relief to someone like Williams, who was found guilty of the crime despite the medical testimony and his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Now as others throughout the state are lining up attorneys for re-sentencing purposes, Williams can only hope that some change in the law would allow him the help he needs. Williams recently wrote a letter to FLORIDA TODAY, insisting on his innocence and blaming the crime on his "best friend."

According to a report issued in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Justice, 45 states have passed or amended legislation since 1992 making it easier to prosecute juveniles as adults. The report states that the number of inmates under 18 confined in adult prisons more than doubled between 1990 and 2000.

"In a perfect world, we would have a way to offer treatment for juveniles, especially for those abused as young children and the mentally ill," said Chief Judge Preston Silvernail, who added that Williams' case was "heart-wrenching for all involved."

Williams, who turned 15 just 29 days before the murder, had little chance of becoming a productive member of society, according to transcripts, interviews and police records.


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  3. I knew Jude as well. I'm sorry, he is guilty and he deserves every bit of his sentence. Everyone has a chance to be a better person and not become how they may have been raised. His brothers turned out fine. Jude could have too. Poor helpless woman is the one everyone should feel sorry for. Not the bullshit stories Jude is coming up with blaming it on insanity. Blah blah blah

    1. his brothers turned out just fine? Have you seen either one of them? his mother is a crack head, tony is an alcoholic who cant keep a job and the youngest one changed his name and moved away to hide from his family. there are many details you don't know about from the day of the crime. they said she was raped, yet Jude was circumcised just a few days before. the metal ring was still attached and he was in pain the day of the murder. there is no way he raped anyone. the clothes he burned in the back yard were 10 sizes too big. there is no way a belt could have kept them on him. the clothes didn't belong to him. I was directly connected to this family through the entire case. Jude was a bad kid. he was troubled kid. he had multiple personalities. he was not alone in that house and he is serving the sentence for something he didn't do. he was there, but not the killer.

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