Man sentenced to life without parole

By CARA MORNINGSTAR

cmorningstar@sungazette.com

Rashawn J. Williams, 34, formerly of Philadelphia, was sentenced Thursday to life without parole in state prison for first-degree murder and other charges in connection with a downtown shooting nearly two years ago.

County Judge Marc F. Lovecchio ordered the sentence for Williams, who was found guilty after a six-day trial in April for shooting and killing Aaron Lowry, 30, of Maxton, North Carolina, at the Lamphouse Hookah Bar on West Third Street on June 1, 2014.

“The District Attorney’s Office remains committed to ensuring that criminals who commit deadly gun crimes do not go unpunished,” said Martin Wade, assistant district attorney.

Eric R. Linhardt, district attorney, said that Williams previously was convicted in 2000 of aggravated assault as a result of a shooting in Philadelphia. He also was convicted of robbery in Montgomery County in 2009 as a result of an armed home invasion, according to Linhardt.

“We will continue to fight to make sure that repeat violent offenders, like Rashawn Williams, who commit such crimes receive the harshest penalty allowed by law in this case, life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Wade said.

During the trial, Wade said that Williams had brought a gun to a fistfight and the behavior showed an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

For the defense in the trial, Chief Public Defender William Miele said that Williams had shot Lowry in self-defense after Lowry, Archie Bell and another man jumped Williams from behind. As the men began hitting Williams, Williams shot to defend himself, according to the defense.

The evidence of the fight and the third man were based solely on witness testimony that were inconsistent, according to Wade.

There also was debate on the folded pocketknife found in Lowry’s pocket during the trial.

Miele said it was possible that Lowry folded up the knife and put it inside his own pocket before collapsing on the sidewalk.

Wade said that if Lowry had accomplished putting the knife away himself, the self-defense claim would have been clear and Williams would have had no reason to run or fabricate evidence about a fight.

As well as the first-degree murder charge, Williams also was sentenced for aggravated assault, possession of a firearm without a license, person not to possess a firearm, simple assault, resisting arrest, terroristic threats and flight to avoid apprehension.