Voltaire Williams, left, and Detective Thomas C. Williams
Photo credit: Los Angeles Police Department
LOS ANGELES — A man convicted in the 1985 plot to kill a Los Angeles police detective will be released on parole within the week, over the objections of Gov. Jerry Brown and city police leaders, according to state corrections officials.
Voltaire Williams, 54, has spent 27 years in state prison after being convicted of joining the scheme to kill LAPD Det. Thomas C. Williams.
Voltaire Williams was not directly involved in the murder and has no relationship to the slain detective, who was fatally shot while picking up his 6-year-old son from a Canoga Park school. The child was not harmed, but the detective died almost instantly from the spray of gunfire.
A jury convicted Williams of conspiracy to commit murder, and in 1989, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In October, a two-person panel of parole commissioners found Williams suitable for parole.
But in December, the governor said he opposed Williams’ release, finding that he had not confronted his actions and responsibility in the detective’s killing, according to a letter sent to the Board of Parole Hearings.
Because Williams was convicted of conspiracy in a murder case — and not a murder charge — the governor was unable to reverse the parole decision outright. Instead, he called for a review by the full panel of parole commissioners.
On Tuesday, the full panel upheld the ruling to grant Williams his release, said Luis Patino, a corrections department spokesman. A release letter will be delivered to California State Prison Solano, where Williams is being held, and he’s expected to be out of prison within five days after that, Patino said.
The union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers said Wednesday that it was appalled by the decision, saying that Williams should remain behind bars for life.
“Detective Williams was assassinated because he did his job. The Parole Board’s decision is an affront to every peace officer who risks their lives to protect others on a daily basis,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement. “He does not deserve freedom.”
The plot to kill the detective was masterminded by Daniel Jenkins, a North Hollywood limousine driver who was on trial for robbery at the time. Det. Williams was the lead investigator in the case, and he was killed just hours after testifying against Jenkins.
Jenkins recruited Voltaire Williams to kill the detective, but the plan was foiled when the detective did not show up where he was expected to. Officials also said Williams recruited a neighbor to kill the detective, but the neighbor — after much planning — backed out.
Jenkins and another man, Ruben Antonio Moss, ultimately carried out the killing, ambushing the detective on Oct. 31, 1985. Jenkins fired 17 times from a machine-gun-type weapon from a car window as Moss drove the vehicle.
Williams’ defense attorney at the time said his client was in Oakland on the day of the killing.
Jenkins was sentenced to death in the gas chamber; he remains on California’s death row.
Five men in total were charged in the plot to kill the detective. Only Jenkins, Williams and Moss were convicted. Moss was sentenced to life in prison and remains behind bars at a state prison in Lancaster.
A jury acquitted Williams of first-degree murder in the slaying. His defense attorney said Williams initially agreed to take part in the shooting but changed his mind about a week beforehand.
“He gave back the gun and the gloves six days before the murder took place,” defense attorney Lewis Watnick said at the time.
Copyright 2017 Los Angeles Times
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