James Williams III, a Mississippi man convicted in 2005 of killing his stepmother and father, walked away free from prison on Tuesday.
Following a 3-2 vote from the Mississippi Parole Board back in April, requests from the victims’ family members, a former prosecutor, and nearly 30 House members were made for the board to reverse course on its initial decision, but it never did. Instead, the parole board has been radio silent since initially granting the double-murderer parole, either denying or not responding to multiple requests for comments and interviews from SuperTalk Mississippi News.
According to family members we spoke to on multiple occasions, Williams was granted parole in part due to a “moral rehabilitation” while in prison through his attainment of a GED and his work as a Christian minister.
“I believe that if he was truly sorry and was now lifted by the word of God, he would have reached out to someone to apologize, but to my knowledge, there has never been that attempt,” Zeno Mangum, the stepbrother of Williams, said.
Williams, who is now 38, was arrested in 2001 for the murders of James Williams, Jr., 53, and Cindy Lassiter Mangum Williams.
According to evidence presented in court, Williams – who was just three months away from turning 18 at the time of the murders – unsuccessfully attempted to poison his father and stepmother. He then shot his father nine times before shooting his stepmother in the face.
Following the murders, Williams brought Adam White, 15, to the scene of the crime and threatened to shoot him too if he did not help dispose of the bodies. The two teenagers proceeded to transport the bodies to a wooded area near Shiloh Park in Brandon in trash bags containing Rubbermaid containers.
Williams and White were eventually taken in for questioning by police, with White telling officials the location of the bodies one week after the murders.
During initial court hearings, Williams’ motive was said to be his discovery of the family’s large inheritance, estimated at nearly $1 million in 2001. Family members have also stated that Williams was informed that his father and stepmother would be inheriting his grandmother’s estate several months before the murders occurred.
In 2012, after Williams had been incarcerated for eight years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that any sentencing of individuals under 18 to life without parole is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, giving Williams a chance to be eligible for parole.
Proponents of Williams’ release argue that he has gone above and beyond in terms of rehabilitation and turning his life around, especially as a Christian minister. Meanwhile, those in opposition contend that Williams has not served nearly enough time for his murders.
Upon release, Williams aspires to serve as a chaplain at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.