A woman convicted by a Pottawatomie County jury of second-degree murder for her role in the 2017 death of Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney was sentenced Friday to serve 25 years with the Department of Corrections.
Brooklyn Danielle Williams, 24, appeared before District Judge John G. Canavan Jr. for formal sentencing, where he adopted the recommendation of the jury — 25 years in prison. With that sentence, she will receive credit for time she has served since May 30, 2017. Second-degree murder can be punishable by 10 years to life in prison.
With formal sentencing completed, Williams will remain jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center until her transfer to the Department of Corrections.
After a week-long trial ended on Feb. 1, the Pottawatomie County jury deliberated just over two hours and found Williams guilty of second-degree murder. Ahead of deliberations that day, a courtroom gallery full of spectators, including more than 30 law enforcement officers from many agencies, listened to final arguments.
Williams was accused, on or about March 26, 2017, of engaging in the felony offense of harboring a fugitive and concealing Byron James Shepard, a person she knew to be a fugitive from justice.
While she was in the commission of that felony, charges allege Shepard, 37, who was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by Williams and stopped by Officer Terney, fired a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol into the abdomen of the officer, causing mortal wounds.
During the trial, prosecutors told jurors that Officer Terney, at 22 years old, had been on the job as a Tecumseh police officer for just 192 days before he died.
The trial included numerous law enforcement witnesses and the jury watching several videos, including dash camera video from Terney’s patrol car.
Also entered into evidence were numerous text messages exchanged between Williams and Shepard that established they had an ongoing relationship and that Williams was helping Shepard — a fugitive with warrants — avoid police for weeks, including a warning text about seeing a trooper on SH 9 just hours before Terney’s shooting occurred.
District 21 Cleveland County prosecutors Pattye High and Travis White represented the state for this trial with assistance from local Investigator Anthony Lee.
As a result of Williams’ felony of harboring a fugitive, White said Terney activated the emergency lights on his patrol car at 11:23 p.m. that night and eight minutes later called out, “Central, I’ve been hit.”
In the video, Terney was polite and courteous, White said, and without Williams concealing Shepard in her car, Shepard would have never met Terney.
“Without Williams, Terney does not take his last breath,” White told the jury.
Defense Attorney Larry Monard told the jury Williams was not responsible for what Shepard did to Officer Terney.
The Cleveland County prosecutors on this case were appointed after former District 23 Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon recused the office from this case.
Shepard, who was shot and wounded when Terney returned fire the night of the traffic stop, has long recovered from his wounds and has been jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center without bond on a first-degree murder charge.
His trial is scheduled in November.