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February 27, 2013

For Immediate Release

Newport News, Virginia


Terrance Williamson was killed by a man he had never met.

He was killed by a man who prosecutors say was a loyal gang member when he pulled the trigger March 13, 2011.

Kwame Drayton was sentenced to 48 years in prison Wednesday after a Newport News jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, gang participation and a firearms charge.

"I feel pretty bad," Drayton, 20, told jurors after the sentence was pronounced. "I apologize to the victim's family. This was an accident. You found me guilty of first-degree murder, but this is not something I intentionally did."

Drayton shot and killed 37-year-old Williamson at an apartment complex on Dresden Drive after Williamson had an confrontation with a fellow gang member of Drayton's, according to prosecutors. Williamson and the fellow gang member, Phillip Turner, 24, argued in front of a crowd after Turner disrespected a woman from the neighborhood, according to court testimony. Williamson confronted Turner and asked him to apologize to the woman, according to testimony.

After the argument, Turner went looking for a gun, and borrowed one from a fellow gang member, according to testimony. About an hour after the confrontation, Williamson was shot in the neck while walking out of the woman's apartment.

Drayton said he accidentally shot Williamson when he came toward him. Drayton testified that as he backed up he hit a wall or someone's apartment door and the gun went off.

"It wasn't intentional," Drayton said from the witness stand. "I was just scared and jumped back. I just heard the shot go boom and blacked out."

A fellow gang member testified that seconds before the shooting, Turner ordered Drayton about four times to shoot Williamson.

Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Valerie Muth said that because Turner was a gang member and felt he had been disrespected by Williamson, he was seeking revenge.

"This was about disrespecting Phil," Muth said in her closing argument. "In this murder, that was the motive. They waited for him, assaulted him, robbed him and proceeded to shoot and kill him to prove their point."

It took the jury nearly four hours to return the guilty verdicts. The jury recommended that Drayton serve 40 years on the murder charge, five years for the gang conviction and a mandatory three years on the firearm charge. They found him not guilty of robbery, conspiracy to commit murder and a second firearms charge.

Because Drayton waived his formal sentencing hearing, Newport News Circuit Judge Timothy Fisher officially sentenced him after the jurors left. Fisher sentenced Drayton to the jury's 48-year recommendation. Drayton is one of four men charged in Williamson's murder.

Williamson was killed five days after celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Telshia Williamson. She said there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't miss her husband. She doesn't believe Drayton killed him by accident.

"I don't buy that," she said. "To me, if it was an accident why did he leave?"

Drayton and his co-defendants drove away after the homicide. Drayton was arrested and charged by police two months later. One of the gang members testified that after the shooting, Drayton was given a new gang name: "stack bodies."

The gang member testified that as they drove away from the murder scene that morning Drayton told them, "I'd do it again."

Copyright © 2013, Newport News, Va., Daily Press