A Houma man convicted of murder in what prosecutors called a “turf war” will continue serving a life sentence after a court rejected his appeal.
The Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the second-degree murder conviction of Elward Williams Jr. who was convicted July 20 in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Corey Butler on Oct. 28, 2015.
Williams, 25, was also convicted of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.
After Williams was given a mandatory life sentence on Aug. 17, he argued there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a conviction and brought the matter to the appellate court.
Prosecutors said the shooting was the culmination of a “turf war” between 27-year-old Maurice Banks and Butler when Butler decided to sell drugs on the 400 block of Morgan Street, which was in Banks’ territory. On Oct. 28, 2015, a fight broke out between the rivals and it took a deadly turn.
The young men began shooting at one another in broad daylight, leaving Banks with a bullet lodged in his jaw, 28-year-old Anthony Sylvester paralyzed after being shot in the back and Butler dead, police said.
Witnesses say Williams stood over Butler and shot him before loading Banks and Sylvester into a truck and fleeing the scene. Police used GPS software to track Williams to an apartment complex in Baton Rouge, where he was arrested on Oct. 30, 2015.
Banks is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted as a habitual offender in 2017, and Sylvester pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Aug. 23 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Williams’ attorney, Bertha M. Hillman, said her client was convicted on false testimony.
In its May 31 ruling, the appellate court said it would not “reweigh the evidence to overturn a fact finder’s determination of guilt.”
“The two witnesses positively identified the defendant as the person who exited the black truck with a firearm and began firing at the victim, who was already on the ground after being shot in the leg by Sylvester,” the court said. “In reviewing the evidence, we cannot say that the jury’s determination was irrational under the facts and circumstances presented to them.”
Williams is serving his sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.