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Williams takes stand, claiming self-defense

March 18, 2011
By MARK LAW, staff writer

STEUBENVILLE - Rasool Hassan Williams, 33, said he was threatened twice with a gun by Charles King prior to April 20 when Williams said he fired gunshots at King in self-defense.

Williams is charged with the April 20 shooting death of Charles King Jr., 29, of Steubenville in the 200 block of North Eighth Street.

Williams is charged with murder, with a firearm specification, and having a firearm as a convicted drug offender.

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OWN DEFENSE — Rasool Hassan Williams, 33, testified in his own defense in his murder trial on Thursday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. Williams, who has claimed self-defense in the shooting death of Charles King Jr., 29, of Steubenville, was questioned by Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin.
-- Mark Law

Testimony concluded Thursday in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court with closing arguments scheduled for this morning. The jury will then begin deliberations.

Williams took the stand in his own defense Thursday.

Williams, when questioned by his attorney Steven Stickles, said King had threatened him in March 2010 and April when King believed Williams was talking to his girlfriend, Laceya Lavender, who now lives in Columbus.

Williams said he was at Club 106 in the South End in March 2010 when King approached him about talking to Lavender. Williams said King lifted his shirt and pulled out a gun, with King saying, "I will burn you." Williams said he believed that meant King would shoot him.

Williams said the second threat came at Pee Dees bar on Fourth Street in April.

Williams said he was involved in another verbal altercation and went to a house at 234 N. Eighth St. - a place where Williams would occasionally spend the night.

Williams said King came up behind him outside the house and again pulled out a gun.

Williams said he went to Lavender's Wintersville apartment early in the morning of April 20. He took a cab back to 234 N. Eighth St.

Williams said King came up behind him as he was opening the door and hit him in the back of the head with a gun. Williams said he was able to get inside the house and went upstairs. The defendant said he heard King come into the house, so Williams said he went and got a gun.

Williams, who was crying on the stand, said he came back downstairs, went outside and fired shots toward King. He said King was bending over. He went back inside the house and saw another person taking King's gun. Williams said he went back outside and was firing shots at the person who took the gun.

Williams said he ran from the house and threw the gun into a garbage can.

"I never wanted to hurt nobody."

"He (King) shot at me and he wanted to kill me. It was my defense ... all just a reaction to him shooting at me. I was in the line of fire. It just happened."

King then met his girlfriend, Sabrina Isaac, who eventually took him to her apartment in Toronto. Isaac during her testimony said she didn't notice anything different about Williams. Williams testified he was hysterical about the shooting incident.

Isaac took Williams to Pittsburgh to catch a Greyhound bus to New Rochelle, N.Y., where Williams had been living prior to coming to Steubenville. Williams was arrested a month later in New Rochelle on a murder warrant.

On cross-examination by county Prosecutor Jane Hanlin, Williams said he never went to the police before or after the shooting to complain about King.

Hanlin asked Williams about the testimony of two eyewitnesses who said they only saw Williams with a gun on April 20.

Ronald May, an eyewitness, said he saw King walking away, down the street from the house at 234 N. Eighth St. prior to the shooting.

Williams agreed the eyewitness testimony doesn't agree with what he said on the stand.

Hanlin also pointed out that shell casings were found 50 feet from the house at 234 N. Eighth St.

Williams said he thinks those shell casings were fired by the man who picked up King's gun.

"What are the odds that he had the exact same kind of weapon and bullets?" Hanlin said.

Again Williams said the shell casings found 50 feet from 234 N. Eighth St. contradict his testimony.

City Police Detective John Lelless testified for the prosecution earlier on Thursday that Isaac told police after the shooting that she hadn't seen Williams on the morning of April 20. Lelless said Isaac refused to submit to subsequent interviews.

Police Sgt. Brian Bissett said King had a reputation for carrying a firearm but said King didn't have a gun on him when his body was searched after the shooting.

(Law can be contacted at

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