Panel rejects Gary killer’s post-conviction appeal

A Lake County man sentenced to 120 years in prison after he was convicted in a second jury trial of a 2013 murder and attempted murder lost his appeal claiming his defense counsel was ineffective.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday rejected Anthony Williams’ petition for post-conviction relief in Anthony T. Williams v. State of Indiana, 20A-PC-998.

Williams was charged with fatally shooting Damian Reedus and shooting and gravely injuring Aja Jester while Williams was a passenger in a van the three had been riding in. Williams also was charged with carjacking after he was accused of taking the van after the shooting.

Investigators ultimately found the murder weapon in a hotel room where Williams had been staying, leading to charges against him. He initially pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in a deal that would have imposed a sentence of 55 years for the murder of Reedus and 30 concurrent years for the shooting of Jester. The judge rejected the agreement, however, finding the concurrent term insufficient for shooting Jester.

Williams’ first trial, at which handgun evidence was not introduced, ended in a hung jury. That evidence was allowed in his second trial, where he was convicted. Williams claimed in his petition for post-conviction relief that his trial counsel was ineffective for opening the door to admission of that evidence and his appellate counsel was ineffective for not raising the issue on direct appeal.

The COA rejected those claims, also finding no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s exclusion of the transcript of Williams’ first trial and finding that Williams “failed to meet his appellate burden of demonstrating a reasonable probability that the outcome of his trial would have been different absent Trial Counsel’s performance.

“… (W)e conclude that the post-conviction court’s determination that Williams received the effective assistance of Trial Counsel and Appellate Counsel was not clearly erroneous,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel.

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