Inmate Freed From Jail to Curb CCP Virus Spread Arrested Next Day for Murder

April 15, 2020 Updated: April 15, 2020

A Florida man has been arrested on suspicion of committing a second-degree murder, just one day after he was released from jail over fears the CCP virus could spread in correctional facilities, authorities said on April 14.

Tampa-based Joseph Edwards Williams, 26, was arrested on Monday on charges of second-degree murder in connection with a homicide last month, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. He also faces charges of violently resisting an officer, gun possession, drug possession, and paraphernalia possession.

He remained in jail on Tuesday night with no bond, records show.

Williams was first arrested on March 13 for possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, and heroin, a third-degree felony, court records show.

The facility on March 19 released more than 100 of its inmates from custody until trial, including Williams, as part of efforts to curb transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, within the detention facilities, and to protect the inmates and staff.

A Florida judge had instructed the local sheriff “to release any pretrial detainee arrested for a municipal or county ordinance violation, a misdemeanor offense, a criminal traffic offense, or a third-degree felony offense.”

However, Williams became the suspect of a murder case a day after his release, the sheriff’s office said.

“There is no question Joseph Williams took advantage of this health emergency to commit crimes while he was out of jail awaiting resolution of a low-level, non-violent offense,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.

His arrest came after a man was fatally shot on March 20 in Tampa’s Progress Village neighborhood.

“Every murder, every violent crime, especially those involving a gun, is a sickening example of the worst in our community, especially at a time when our community is working relentlessly to fight against the spread of this deadly COVID-19,” Chronister added.

“Judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs around the country are facing difficult decisions during this health crisis with respect to balancing public health and public safety.

“Sheriffs in Florida and throughout our country have released non-violent, low-level offenders to protect our deputies and the jail population from an outbreak.

“Our commitment as an agency is to keep this community safe and enforce the law.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Williams’s criminal record includes arrests for 35 charges.