Farmer’s killer convicted of capital murder again
30 Aug 2000
CATHY FRYE

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

 

STAR CITY — Three prison guards stood behind an impassive Kenneth Williams on Tuesday afternoon as he was convicted a second time of capital murder, this time for the shooting death of a 57-year-old farmer from Grady.

 

Jurors deliberated for 40 minutes before rendering their verdict.

 

Thirty minutes later, they listened to those who have had near-deadly encounters with Williams and lived:

 

A woman who, after Williams robbed and kidnapped her, refused to turn her back on him and walk away because she was sure he would shoot her in the back if she did.

 

And a young man, who described how Williams kidnapped him and his college friend, Dominique Hurd, from a Bonanza restaurant where they had stopped to eat lunch after church services.

 

As these survivors told their stories, the members of Cecil Boren’s family wept. Boren, a 57-year-old Grady farmer, was one of Williams’ most recent victims.

 

Boren was killed on Oct. 3, 1999, just a few hours after Williams escaped from the nearby Cummins Unit, where he was serving a sentence of life without parole for killing a university cheerleader.

 

The cheerleader, Hurd, was a friend of Peter Robertson, a fellow college student at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Late Tuesday afternoon, the slightly built Robertson recalled for jurors the hours of terror he and Hurd suffered at Williams’ hands.

 

On Dec. 13, 1998, a Sunday, Robertson and Hurd had just finished eating at Bonanza and were taking pictures of each other in the parking lot when Williams showed up “out of nowhere” and offered to take a few snapshots of the pair, Robertson testified.

 

Moments later, Williams was ordering them into their car at gunpoint and instructing them to drive to an automated teller machine. Williams took their money, their jewelry {What the story doesn’t tell you is that he stole jewelry from 3 diff. people and when caught by MO State troopers, had 12 gold rings on, several gold chains and a gold tooth}and credit cards. Then he told Robertson to keep driving.

 

They hadn’t driven too far, Robertson recalled, when Williams said to pull over. He then handed the camera to Robertson and forced him to take pictures of Williams posing with Hurd. At one point, Williams yanked down the frightened woman’s underwear, lifted her skirt and ordered Robertson to keep taking pictures, Robertson said

 

“He took us to a place — I really don’t know where we were,” he recalled. “We thought he’d pulled off. But he hadn’t, because he came back.”

 

Williams demanded that Hurd give him her purse. Then he asked the couple where they were from.

 

“Pine Bluff,” Robertson said.

 

“Dallas,” Hurd replied.

 

Williams retorted: “I can’t stand those niggers from Dallas,” Robertson told jurors. “And he started shooting.”

 

Hurd died. But Robertson survived and testified against Williams when he was tried for Hurd’s murder last fall. Williams was sentenced on Sept. 15, 1999, to life without parole.

 

Nineteen days later, Williams managed to escape, stowing away from the Cummins Unit in a hog slop tank. Then he made his way to Boren’s farm, where he shot Boren seven times. Most of the bullets entered his back. {as he tried to flee after pleading for his life}

 

Prosecutors theorize the farmer was trying to flee, until a bullet hit him in the neck, tearing through his spine and paralyzing him.

 

Sharon Hence, another of Williams’ victims, told jurors she was certain Williams meant to kill her in the same fashion.

 

On Dec. 5, 1998, Hence was using an ATM when Williams hopped into her car, she said. He stole her money and her jewelry. Then he ordered her to drive, telling Hence that if she had a wreck, he would hurt her, she said.

 

“I pleaded with him for my life — ‘Take my car, my money.’ “

 

Finally, Williams told her to pull over, get out of the car and walk into the woods. “But I wouldn’t, because I thought he would shoot me,” she testified. “I told him no because he would shoot me in the back.”

 

Williams got 10 years for aggravated robbery and five years for kidnapping. He was already serving those sentences when he was tried for Hurd’s murder.

 

Defense attorneys cross-examined both Hence and Robertson, attempting to show in Hence’s case that Williams didn’t kill her, that he did drive away. With Robertson, the defense questioned his credibility, noting that during the 1998 trial there was testimony that Robertson had initially identified a man in a 7-Eleven video as his abductor.

 

Members of Boren’s family also took the stand Tuesday to offer their “victim impact” statements to the jury. Arkansas law {Now there is an oxymoron for you} allows victims’ families to address jurors during the punishment phase.

 

Boren’s youngest daughter, Holly, 28, described the evening ritual she used to share with her father. Just before bed, she recalled, she would kiss her father on the forehead when they exchanged their goodnights.

 

“The last time I was able to kiss him on his forehead, he was in his casket,” she sobbed.

 

The defense will offer its witnesses today.

 

Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty.

 

Tuesday’s speedy verdict didn’t seem to come as a surprise to anyone in the courtroom, including the attorneys, who, even as jurors deliberated, were discussing with the judge their witness lineups for the punishment phase.

 

Williams made an ironclad case against himself, prosecutors said in closing arguments.

 

“He’s got all but a name tag on him,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Garfield Bloodman, referring to how Williams was not only recaptured while driving his victim’s truck, but while wearing Boren’s monogrammed coveralls and carrying in his pocket a clip from the gun believed to have killed Boren.

 

Williams was even wearing two of Boren’s rings, Bloodman said incredulously.

 

“Talk about the nerve of this guy. One on each hand.” In order to convict Williams of capital murder, jurors had to decide that he also was guilty of either first-degree escape, which involves the use of a deadly weapon, or aggravated robbery.

 

Or both.

 

Prosecutors argued that Boren’s death was vital to Williams making a successful escape once he had sneaked out of Cummins. He needed transportation. Money. A way to get out of town — and fast.

 

And living as close to the prison as the Borens did, their home, which offered all of the above, was an easy target, Bloodman said.

 

But defense attorneys disagreed, saying there’s no way to know what happened at the home. The state didn’t prove that Williams was there to commit robbery, said Pine Bluff attorney John Cone. Boren might have seen the inmate and confronted him as he approached the house, prompting a deadly confrontation, Cone said.

 

As for the first-degree escape charge, a deadly weapon would have to have been used as Williams left the Cummins Unit, not at Boren’s home, the defense attorney argued.

 

Jurors didn’t agree.

 

Part of the testimony in the punishment phase of the trial has also focused on Williams’ last victim — Michael Greenwood, a deliveryman who was hit when Williams’ slammed into him during an hour-long, high-speed chase. {What the story didn’t tell you is that the victim was a 24 year old part-time college student at Central Missouri State University}

 

Missouri authorities testified that Williams spent the last several miles of the pursuit driving in the lane for opposing traffic. That’s how he managed to hit Greenwood’s Culligan truck, which was making a left turn.

 

Left out of Tuesday’s second recounting of events, however, was a remark Williams made as state Trooper Ryan Pace cuffed him and escorted him to a waiting patrol car.

 

“Boy, that was some good driving.”

 

{What the story failed to tell you is that Williams crashed his stolen vehicle and fled into a field where he was adbucted by a dozen MO State Troopers. As Williams was being led back to the patrol car handcuffed, he was escorted by the body of the 24 year old Greenwood, where he kicked the dead body of Greenwood, spat on him, and then cursed him for “getting in his way”.}.

12 thoughts on “Lifer escapes, murders two more

  • August 24, 2009 at 5:22 am
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    i never knew the whole story of this murderer, until now. 10 years i have been clueless.. this no hearted man spit and kicked the man he killed (my father) and cussed at him. Williams is a bastard and WILL rott in hell. and if i had anything to say to him it would be “thanks a lot for killing my dad. i spent 5 years with him and he was my life.. and it all vanised because of you all my happiness is gone.”

    Reply
  • August 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm
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    Kayla,

    I am so sorry for your loss.  It must have been really hard to understand what was happening at such a young age. 

    I hope that you can find happiness.  You are so young and I am sure that your dad would not want you to be feeling so lost.    Your life is different then everyone else’s, homicide is a brutal act, not many have to deal with the reality of the pain it causes to those left behind.  Dealing with the justice system and injustices in the world is even worse.

    I have found that helping others through loss and fighting to see that criminals are kept from harming others, by telling my son’s story, helps me to deal with the murder of my son.  Perhaps in the future you might help others also. 

    You may also find that the rest of your life holds joys that are unexpected.

    Patti March 

    Feel free to email me privately anytime at info@homicidesurvivors.com.  < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    Reply
  • September 9, 2009 at 10:58 am
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    I knew this student. She was beautiful and very talented. I wish she was here she had a great spirit.

    Reply
  • August 4, 2010 at 3:24 am
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    Williams killed my great uncle cecil and I want vengeance done. I want to watch as he fries in the chair.

    Reply
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  • April 9, 2016 at 3:24 am
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    He killed my friend Nikki. She was a bright light in a dark world….

    Reply

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