29 January 2019 :
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld a South Carolina federal district court's grant of penalty relief to Charles Christopher Williams. Williams, 35, Black, was accused of holding his ex-girlfriend Maranda Williams hostage for 2 hours in September 2003 before shooting her to death. He was sentenced to death on February 17, 2005 (see). On March 8, 2018, US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs vacated Williams' death sentence and ordered a re-sentencing hearing. Today the appeals court determined that Williams's trial lawyer provided ineffective representation in the sentencing phase of his capital trial when counsel failed to investigate and present available evidence that Williams suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. The circuit court also ruled that the South Carolina state courts unreasonably determined the facts and unreasonably applied clearly established U.S. Supreme Court case law on this issue.