Inmate charged with murder in death of cellmate at Windham correctional center

Jul. 9—A prisoner charged with murder in the death of a cellmate at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham is not cooperating with his court-appointed attorney or his caseworker, and did not make his first court appearance on Friday.

Carl Williams, 38, who was indicted June 8 on a murder charge in the death of Renaldo Jones, did not appear on a Zoom call Friday with Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy.

“He’s not really engaging with anybody,” Stacey Crafford, a caseworker for Williams at the Maine State Prison, told the judge. Williams was transferred to the prison in Warren in February, Crafford told the court, after Jones was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. Williams is accused of assaulting him.

It was unclear to the judge and to Williams’ attorney, Jeff Wilson, why Williams was moved. The Maine Attorney General’s Office hasn’t responded to requests from the Press Herald for information about what authorities believe occurred between Williams and Jones that led to Jones’ death.

Jones, 30, died on May 10 at Maine Medical Center, where he had been unresponsive for nearly four months. He had one year left at the Windham prison on a theft conviction when he was assaulted.

His relatives flocked to Maine from Florida and Texas after learning of his hospitalization. They stayed in Maine for as long as they could, and monitored his health on Zoom calls when they had to leave, watching for any signs of recovery.

Relatives told the Press Herald that Jones was the kind of person who stood up for others, and that he loved animals and skateboarding and superheroes like Spiderman. They said his stints behind bars stemmed from his long-running struggles with substance use disorder, but that he was making plans for sobriety and a fresh start after prison. He had told the family that he might move to Massachusetts and become a licensed wastewater operator like his brother.

“He just had all these hopes of doing his time and coming home and trying to do better,” his sister Julia Moreno said in February. “He just didn’t deserve this at all. Nobody does.”

Williams is now in the special housing unit of Maine State Prison in Warren.

Crafford, a correctional care and treatment worker at the prison, said at Friday’s hearing that Williams has not engaged with anyone since arriving at the facility — he eats his meals in his cell and leaves only to shower.

She said she had only recently taken over Williams’ case in a staffing change and didn’t have access to mental health information that she could share with the court on Friday.

“I request that somebody start doing some checks on him,” Murphy said. “This is just a little concerning. … I’m just concerned about his mental status.”

Wilson told Murphy that he plans to visit the facility Thursday in hopes that an in-person visit will convince Williams to cooperate.

Williams was serving a couple of sentences simultaneously when he was at Maine Correctional Center with Jones. In June 2020, he was sentenced to four years for deliberately striking a vehicle with a pickup truck, according to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.

“The defendant was present and laid down on the ground with his hands behind his back and said he was not resisting,” the office said. “The defendant was allowed to stand up and told the police that he had run into the car on purpose and that he had just got out of prison in October 2019 for robbery and was too old to be living at his mother’s house. … He said he had nothing to live for and had no money.”

At the time, Williams had just finished serving time in Houston for robbery, the district attorney’s office said. Over the years, he served several other sentences in Florida and South Carolina for criminal mischief, assault on an officer, trespassing and burglary.

Unable to post bail a month after his arrest for hitting the vehicle, Williams racked up a new charge for assaulting Penobscot County corrections officer Shane Richards.

Richards was letting Williams out of his cell to use the restroom. Williams had to wait for another man to finish using the facility and “became aggressive,” according to court records, “trying to push his way through.” When Richards reached out to hold Williams back, Williams grabbed him by the throat and started choking him.

After officers separated the two, Williams allegedly told them “he could have beaten the officer to death because Richard was light.”

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