A jury today could not reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial for an alleged South Carolina gang member who claimed stand your ground in the murder of 17-year Chester City Council veteran Odell Williams. The stand your ground motion was denied on Monday (April 18).
19-year-old Christopher Moore said he felt threatened, feared for his life, and in self-defense fired up to 18 shots from a rifle that killed Williams on November 4, 2014.
Moore is one of five men – along with Terrance Buchanan, Derrick Dixon, Quinton McClinton, and DeAngelo Roseboro – all with felony records – involved with gunning down 79 year-old council member Williams after the politician-church deacon-football and baseball coach followed them.
After all the men were arrested, Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood said police had received death threats from gang members, and declared a “war on gangs in Chester” .
Why Williams followed the men, and why he didn’t call police, is unknown, but guns create an environment of empowerment. Each side is entitled to their 2nd Amendment right to defend himself.
In October 2014, near Williams’ home and concrete business, a house belonging to a rival gang had been hit with gunfire. On Nov. 4, the five suspects were in a truck parked near the business “with the intention of committing armed robbery” against the “rival gang house,” 6th Circuit assistant solicitor Julie Hall said.
Moore testified that he and his boys had been smoking marijuana and scheming on the rival gang because of a drug deal gone bad. Williams’ wife saw the suspects parked in the truck near the business and called him.
Odell Williams, painted by defense attorneys as an ex-cop with a vigilante attitude, retired from the Chester Police Department in 1997. Before his death, he was indicted for allegedly threatening to kill the city’s police chief in a city hall restroom in March, 2014. He faced up to 5 years in jail and a $5000 fine had he been convicted.
When his wife called, Williams arrived and went after the gang as they rode off. During a three-mile chase, at speeds of up to 70 mph, Williams reportedly fired gunshots at the truck. It is unclear whether police found any shell casings in Williams car, or gunshot residue on his hand.
At some point during the chase, unbeknownst to Williams, Moore exited the truck (he testified that he “fell” out of the truck). When Williams drove up, Moore allegedly opened fire.
In his first interviews with investigators, Moore denied any involvement with the murder, claiming he was elsewhere at the time. In court during the trial, he admitted firing the weapon, but claimed it was in self-defense.
A jury was selected and seated for a trial which began Tuesday (April 19), but did not get to hear Moore’s testimony at Monday’s stand your ground hearing, when he said he did not intend to kill Williams.
After three days of testimony, the jury began deliberations on April 22, 2016 but could not reach a unanimous verdict by the next day, resulting in a mistrial.
After a retrial two months later, Christopher Moore was sentenced on June 30, 2016 to life in prison without the possibility of parole on the murder charge, plus five years for the gun charge.
This article was updated to include the sentencing