Florida man released from jail because of coronavirus arrested on murder charges

The 26-year-old also faces weapon and drug charges.

April 15, 2020, 11:49 AM

A week after a Florida man was released from jail as a preventive measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus, he was arrested on charges including murder.

Joseph Edward Williams was released March 19 following the issuance of an administrative order aimed at lowering the risk of COVID-19 spread within the Hillsborough County jail, police said. Williams, 26, was being held there on $2,500 bond for felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

Seven days later, Williams allegedly shot and killed someone in Tampa, said police, who didn't disclose additional details on the victim or the crime.

Williams was arrested April 13 for second-degree murder, resisting an officer with violence, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia, authorities said. A judge set bail at $250,000.

"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. "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."

Joseph Williams, 26, was arrested for murder after getting administratively released from jail to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Police said Williams has a long criminal history that includes felony burglary and drug convictions.

It's unclear whether Williams has retained legal counsel at this time. No attorney information was available in online court records.

The office of State Attorney Andrew Warren did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

As of Tuesday, 35 inmates and 56 jail employees had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

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