Williams was freed last month, six days after being arrested on suspicion of heroin possession, a third-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, according to jail records.
A state judge had authorized the local sheriff “to release any pretrial arrestedee arrested for a municipal or county ordinance violation, a misdemeanor offense, a criminal traffic offense, or a third-degree felony offense. “
” The order was drafted in an effort to lower the risk of the spread of COVID – 021 within the Hillsborough County detention facilities and to protect the inmates, deputies and civilian staff working within the jails, “the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
On March 20, a man was fatally shot in a community called Progress Village, sheriff’s officials said. Williams was allegedly involved in the slaying, authorities said.
“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense. ” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement Tuesday.
The sheriff’s statement, however, acknowledged that Williams could also have been freed on those prior charges if he had come up with $ 2, bond.
“Judges, prosecutors and sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety, “Chronister said. “Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak.”
NBC News affiliate (WFLA) of Tampa reports that the sheriff’s department has so far released 500 low-level and non-violent offenders.
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