Hale guilty of murder

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 2004

The party that crisp fall night last year started off as a homecoming celebration.

But the Oct. 25, 2003

event took a tragic twist when Jonathan A. Williams, 49, of Virginia Beach was shot and killed by his date’s son. Williams, a former Suffolk resident who had remained active in the community, died the next day.

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On Thursday, almost a year after Williams’ death, Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker found Kelly Lashea Hale, 27, of Suffolk guilty of first-degree murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and unauthorized use of a handgun.

Hale could receive life in prison and an additional 13 year sentence for the lesser charges. A pre-sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 1.

According to court testimony, Hale and two friends had been at the party at a Nansemond Parkway home for about an hour when his mother, Joyce Hale, and Williams, her date, showed up. According to testimony, Hale and Williams – who did not know one another – got into a verbal disagreement after Hale made a disparaging comment to his mother and Williams asked him not to address her that way.

Hale pulled out a pistol and, in a premeditated move, fire a bullet into Williams’ abdomen, said prosecutor Will Jamerson.

&uot;You pulled a gun, stuck it up to the head of a man you don’t know, backed away and shot him,&uot; said Jamerson. &uot;That’s an intentional shooting. It’s no accidental discharge.&uot;

Hale’s attorney, David W. Bouchard, said his client was not denying the shooting occurred. But, he contended, Hale did not plan the incident; rather, it was a poor behavior choice made while he and friends were drunk and on drugs, including cocaine and marijuana.

&uot;This was a silly, stupid situation he created by being drunk and stoned and overreacting,&uot; Bouchard said.

Hale, who took the stand in his own defense, said he didn’t intend to fire the gun.

&uot;Me and him, we had words,&uot; Hale said. &uot;I reached into my coat, pulled my gun out, clicked the handle and pointed it at him.

&uot;I guess I pulled the gun out to frighten him,&uot; he said. &uot;I just wanted to him to be quiet. I had no intention of hurting him at all.&uot;

Parker dismissed the defense’s attempts to have the charged dropped from first-degree murder to a lesser charge, such as second-degree or manslaughter.

&uot;I don’t buy that this was an accident,&uot; he said. &uot;You don’t cock your gun for any reason but to shoot it.

&uot;Premeditation doesn’t need to exist but for a second,&uot; he said. &uot;As sad a case as this is, it is a case of first-degree murder.&uot;