A Sterling man may have escaped the death penalty by pleading guilty to first-degree murder in Loudoun County Circuit Court Friday, Dec. 8.
Daunteril Maurice Hall, 29, pleaded guilty to the murder of 24-year-old Sherine Williams in her Reserve Falls Terrace apartment in January 2005.
Hall made an Alford plea to Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne, which the judge accepted during the hearing.
An Alford plea means Hall maintains his innocence, but believes it is in his best interest to plead guilty rather than proceed to trial.
"It is a guilty plea," Commonwealth Attorney James Plowman said.
WILLIAM’S BODY was found on the bathroom floor of her Sterling apartment by family members on the night of Jan. 23, 2005.
Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kraig Troxell said William’s relatives contacted the Sheriff’s Office after they did not hear from her for several hours. Deputies visited the apartment, but couldn’t enter her home without any physical signs of disruption.
"The doors were locked, nothing was broken," Troxell said.
After that, family members entered her apartment where they found her body with multiple gunshot wounds and lacerations to her throat.
Hall said he and Williams were acquaintances, but Plowman said the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, believes there was a connection between Hall and William’s boyfriend, John Morris, who was being held by federal agents at the time of the murder for drug distribution. Morris has since been convicted.
"Hall has a history with drug distribution," Plowman said.
HALL WAS ORIGINALLY charged with capital murder and faced the death penalty, but he agreed to a deal with the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney to plead guilty to first-degree murder.
"The one obvious benefit is that he avoids the possibility of a death sentence," Plowman said.
Hall will face a minimum of 44 years in prison, Plowman said.
The public and the victim’s relatives will benefit from the plea, Plowman said.
"No appeals, no retrials," he said.
Plowman said a minimum of 40 years in prison means "satisfaction and closure for the victim’s family [which is] extremely important."
AFTER THE JAN. 2005 murder, Hall fled the area. Sheriff’s Office investigators tracked Hall to Canton, Ohio, where they worked with local and federal agencies to capture him. A local officer recognized Hall walking down a street, Jan. 28, 2005, and captured him after a short foot chase.