A Long Beach ex-con pleaded not guilty on Thursday to murder charges after allegedly fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend in front of their son during a domestic violence incident last month, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Eric Jerome Williams, 29, was charged with two counts of injuring a child’s parent and one count each of murder, child abuse, possession of a firearm by a felon, and resisting or delaying a peace officer, a release stated.
The felony complaint includes a special circumstance allegation that Williams killed the victim, Long Beach resident Jerica Owens, 25, because she was a witness to a crime, the release added.
The charging document also contains a special allegation that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, causing great bodily injury and death.
Williams was previously convicted of battery in 2008 and the unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle in 2010, according to the complaint.
Williams and Owens were in a relationship for several years and lived together before they broke up, according to Deputy District Attorney Troy Davis, who is prosecuting the case.
In October 2015, Williams allegedly strangled Owens until she lost consciousness and then strangled her again when she awoke, Davis said. The incident happened when the pair met up to exchange their son and Williams reportedly became angry with Owens.
On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 the defendant met with Owens and their son in Long Beach’s South Wrigley district when the two reportedly got into an argument, according to the prosecutor.
“At some point, Williams allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the victim several times in the head in front of their son,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant then fled the area with their child.”
Long Beach police eventually found Williams at a friend’s home nearby, following the shooting, but he reportedly refused to come out.
“Believing the child may be in further danger, officers forced entry into an apartment unit and rescued him,” the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) previously stated.
Williams was subsequently arrested and then charged on Christmas Eve.
He is due back in court on March 16 for a preliminary hearing setting at the Long Beach Superior Courthouse, according to the district attorney’s office.
Williams faces the death penalty or life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged, officials said.
Prosecutors have not yet made a decision on whether to seek the death penalty.