A Florida inmate who was released from jail due to impending concerns nationwide over the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities is accused of murder.
Joseph Edward Williams, 26, was initially released last month — along with more than 100 other inmates — in order to limit the spread of coronavirus among incarcerated people. He was initially arrested on assorted drug charges, including possession of heroin, according to a statement by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
But a day after his release, an unidentified man was shot and killed and authorities allege that Williams was involved in his death. Williams was arrested the same day, and is currently facing charges of second-degree murder, possession of firearms, heroin and drug paraphernalia as a felon, as well as resisting an officer with violence, per the sheriff's office.
"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," said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister in a statement.
"Every murder, every violent crime, especially those involving a gun, is a sickening example of the worst in our community, especially at a time when our community is working relentlessly to fight against the spread of this deadly COVID-19."
Williams is being held in jail without bond.
Per the Tampa Bay Times, it is the sole case in the county of an inmate who committed a new crime following their release amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nationwide, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 446 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, while 14 have died as of Tuesday.
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