Gun perp refused to get off correction bus for sentencing but couldn't avoid fate

In sentencing Tyreik Williams, Justice William E. Garnett said the defendant has made a habit of flouting the justice system

By Frank Donnelly
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Had Tyreik Williams gotten off a Correction Department bus Thursday to attend his scheduled sentencing in state Supreme Court, St. George, he would have heard some unflattering statements about himself.

Citing his criminal history, which now includes four felony convictions, a prosecutor said Williams, 20, is a “dangerous person” who should be sentenced to the maximum of 15 years behind bars to protect Staten Island residents.

A justice said Williams had continually shown a lack of respect to the court and also pointed to the West Brighton resident’s checkered past, starting with a shooting incident at age 17.

And, finally, Williams would have found out he was, in fact, sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision stemming from his trial conviction last month for second-degree criminal weapon possession.

The panel found that Williams had tossed away a gun on April 17, 2018, as officers chased him from Clifton into Concord.

In her opening statement on Sept. 6, Assistant District Attorney Antonia Assenso said two cops had seen the butt end of a gun protruding from Williams’ pocket when they encountered him during the evening on Palma Drive in Clifton.

Williams bolted, and an officer chased him into nearby Concord, but briefly lost sight of the defendant after he rounded a corner.

Just before the officer turned the corner himself, he heard the sound of metal clanking against metal, said Assenso.

The cop then saw Williams with his hands up, Assenso said.

The officer didn’t find a gun when he searched the defendant, said Assenso.

But he did locate one with a black handle lying next to a metal storage container in the front yard of a home near the corner of Britton Avenue and Steuben Street, Assenso said.

The weapon was a few feet from where Williams was standing, she said.

“That metal-on-metal sound was this defendant taking the firearm and throwing it as far as he could so the officer could not find it,” said Assenso.

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Matthew Zuntag contended the prosecutors’ case hinged on speculation.

He said cops never saw the entire gun they said Williams was carrying.

Nor had anyone actually seen the defendant chuck the weapon over a fence during the pursuit, Zuntag told jurors.

And, he said, Williams’ fingerprints and DNA weren’t found on the recovered weapon.

Jurors, however, believed the evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant, who did not testify.

At the sentencing, Assenso said a stiff sentence was needed to keep Williams off the street.

“As shown by the defendant’s continued lack of respect not only for the court system, but society as a whole, … the defendant cannot and will not conform his behavior to that which is acceptable to society.”

“Staten Island can only be protected from such a dangerous person by a sentence that ensures a long separation,” said Assenso, who, along with Assistant District Attorney Kate Malloy, prosecuted the case.

Zuntag, the defense lawyer, said the maximum sentence of 15 years should be reserved for the “most extreme circumstances,” which wasn’t the case here.

“This was a simple throwaway,” said Zuntag. “He did not pull out the gun on anyone. He did not threaten anyone.”

In sentencing Williams, Justice William E. Garnett said the defendant has made a habit of flouting the justice system.

One of the defendant’s prior convictions resulted from shooting a person in the leg, he said.

Another stemmed from the robbery of a leather jacket at gunpoint days later, said the judge.

A third entailed his slashing a fellow inmate at Riker’s Island.

Williams is currently serving a 30-month sentence for the latter incident.

Garnett said Williams disrespected the court not only by refusing to come to his sentencing, but for previously refusing to attend his arraignment.

Afterward, he was forcibly brought to court for the arraignment, the judge said.

Williams plans to appeal.

©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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