Murderer Gets Maximum: Prosecutors Say Witness Cooperation Key

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 18, 2013 Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 5:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Witness testimony keeps a Fort Wayne murderer from wiggling off the hook.

Punishment was handed down Friday in a drug shooting.

The crime wasn't unusual, but prosecutors contend the actions of those who saw it were out of the ordinary.

It’s well established that in some homicide cases, there are people who know what happened, but don't speak up.

At least a half dozen people provided information to police, including three who identified 27-year old Ronald Williams as the triggerman in the March fatal shooting of Mark Young Jr.

As a result, Williams is going away to prison for a long time.

Allen County Judge Fran Gull sentenced Williams to 65 years, the maximum allowed under Indiana law in this kind of case.

We're told Williams and Young got into it, partly over who was the bigger drug dealer, and when Young hopped out of a car in the 3400 block of Reed Street to walk away, evidence indicated Williams got out and shot him in the back, before walking up and unloading his weapon into the victim as he lay sprawled on the ground.

The key witnesses were two women who were also in the car during the argument.

" That's been our biggest hurdle. All the homicides we've had this year, we just don't have the witnesses coming forward and helping us out. Without the witnesses, we're nowhere in these cases, so I really tip my hat to those folks that stepped up to the plate and testified for the state of Indiana in this case," said Steve Godfrey, chief counsel for the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office in the trial that resulted in a murder conviction.

There was a development in another noteworthy local case on Friday.

Teenager Omar Ruffin will avoid a felony murder charge, after signing off on a plea bargain.

Ruffin pleaded guilty to attempted robbery instead.

Police say Ruffin and JaQueze Dandridge back in June cooked up a robbery scheme, where they jumped up on the porch of a home and pulled guns on two men.

But the plan took a deadly turn when one of the victims scuffled with Dandridge, then shot him to death on the side of the home.

Under Indiana law, if someone dies in the commission of a crime, the partner in that crime can be charged with felony murder, even if he or she isn’t the one who fired the fatal shot.

If the plea is accepted, Ruffin faces a maximum of 15 years, far less than he could have gotten from a felony murder conviction.

Sentencing for Ruffin is scheduled for December 13th.

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