By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A Tupelo man pleaded guilty Monday to the 2012 shooting death of Everett Ray Foster.
Kelly Mims, attorney for James Williams, 43, said his client accepted a plea offer from the District Attorney’s office to avoid a trial by entering a guilty plea to manslaughter with a 12-year sentence.
“It was his decision,” Mims said. “It’s a tragedy – their families were friends.”
A Lee County grand jury indicted Williams on a murder charge in February for Foster’s death.
The men were friends and apparently became intoxicated, then got into a fight. When Foster returned to Williams’ mother’s South Canal Street residence, Williams fired a .22-caliber rifle three times through a door and fatally wounded Foster.
DA spokesman Paul Howell said Foster’s family agreed to the deal.
“We supported their decision,” Howell said.
Circuit Judge Paul Funderburk presided at the hearing in the Lee County Justice Center.
Assistant District Attorney John Weddle represented the state.
During the late-morning hearing, Williams apologized to Foster’s family and Foster’s sister told the court they deeply regretted what had happened between the two men.
Before the plea deal, Mims sought to suppress a video statement Williams gave to the Tupelo Police Department on the day of his arrest Oct. 12, 2012. He argued that once an intoxicated Williams was read his rights and asked for counsel, all questioning should have stopped and could not resume until he knowingly consented to waive his rights.
Mims also aimed to show a jury at trial that Williams was defending himself when he shot Foster.
None of those issues remain, now that Williams pleaded guilty.