PICKENS — Following 10 18-hour days of investigation, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has announced the arrests of two suspects in connection with the shooting death of Shane Ainsley Williams of Dacusville.
Crystal Gail Williams, 34, and Marcus Channing Johnson, 35, both residents of the Dacusville community, have been arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit murder.
Johnson was also charged with one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
“I want to thank the community of Dacusville for their cooperation and patience during this investigation,” Sheriff Rick Clark stated. “We could have moved quicker in this case but we were determined to have an even better case to take to the solicitor’s office.”
Based on the investigation’s results and information released by Clark and the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, evidence indicates the murder was the result of a plan by Crystal Williams and Johnson to gain financially from Shane Williams’ death with a $250,000 life insurance policy on the victim.
Crystal Gail Williams and Shane Ainsley Williams had been married for 14 years.
On the morning of the shooting, arrest warrants detail Johnson arrived at the residence at 117 Devon Court in Dacusville and Crystal Gail Williams unlocked the kitchen door to allow access for Johnson. She then woke her husband and informed him more firewood was needed. When Shane Williams entered the living room of the residence, Johnson fired three shots, killing Ainsley.
At the time of the shooting, the victim’s 10-year-old child was present in the home.
“The defendants have known each other since they were in grade school,” Clark said. “Based on search warrants we know the defendants had been involved in a relationship via messaging for some time.”
When asked if the relationship was romantic in nature, Clark declined to speculate or make a determination on the type of relationship between the defendants at this time. Clark did confirm the department’s belief the financial motive and indications of a “financial arrangement” between the defendants did arise from the interactions of these exchanged messages.
“There is no evidence of a romantic relationship at this time,” Clark stated. “This was an arrangement financially between the defendants to benefit from the victim’s death through a life insurance policy.”
The financial gain aspect of the crime does present a new issue for consideration when presenting the case for the solicitor’s office.
As the charges stand now, Williams and Johnson face 30 years to life for the murder charge, but murder for financial gain makes the case a potential death penalty prosecution.
“Murder for financial gain qualifies for the death penalty notice,” 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins explained. “The victim’s family will be talked with and listened to on the penalty the solicitor’s office will be seeking. A death penalty case means the victim’s family will be in a position to deal with the longevity of that type of prosecution and appeals for years to come. We will be considering how they feel very carefully in the process.”
“This was a fantastic job of investigating by the textbook,” Wilkins said of the sheriff’s department’s efforts in the case. “It was done quickly and efficiently. We are satisfied the two were arrested with sufficient evidence to support the warrants and move forward with one hundred percent support.”
As to whether the solicitor’s office will seek the death penalty, Clark brought the press conference to a personal level with his comments.
“We have to remember there’s a 10-year-old here who is a double victim,” Clark said. “Both sides of the family were very understanding and helpful in this investigation, cooperative with our investigators throughout the last 10 days. They have to be considered as well.”
Both defendants will be held without bond “due to the nature of the crimes with which they are being charged,” and remain in custody in the Pickens County Law Enforcement Center and Wilkins stated his office would be taking its “time to consider the penalty and consult with the family and their wishes.”