A Monday bond review hearing and a competency evaluation for a defendant accused of murdering of three young girls, including his 6-year-old sister, turned bit chaotic inside a Prince George’s County courtroom.
Flanked by three sheriff’s deputies, Antonio Williams, who turned 25 Saturday, didn’t come inside the courtroom quietly.
“I’m not the one you are looking for,” he said while onlookers, including more than a dozen of the victims’ family members, gasped and stared in shock.
Judge Patrice Lewis asked for calm inside the courtroom, already fraught with tension because of faulty air conditioning. But as Williams continued his outbursts, the judge canceled the proceeding and ordered him to be evaluated for an Aug. 29 competency hearing. The behavioral assessment will determine Williams’ mental health and whether he’s fit to stand trial.
Maryland’s mental health procedures allow for a judge to require a defendant to receive a “competency evaluation” seven days after a court order. However, the court may extend the time.
If a judge rules that Williams is dangerous and cannot comprehend the court proceedings due to a mental disorder, then the court will commit him to the state Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.
But Christopher Garrett, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health, said mental illness alone “is not a predictor of violent crime.”
“Mental illness can impact a person’s ability to function within family and community,” Garrett told The Informer. “However, with appropriate treatment, individuals with mental illness are able to function effectively at home, on their jobs and within the community.”
Moreover, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said she anticipates Williams will be found competent.
“He cooperated in the interrogation process,” she said Monday outside the courthouse. “We have every reason to believe he is competent, but that is up for a medical professional to make the determination.”
According to court documents, Williams’ mother, Andrena Kelley of Clinton, came home from work about 7:30 a.m. Friday and discovered the bodies of her daughter, Nadira Janae’ Withers, 6, and her two cousins, Ariana Elizabeth DeCree, 9, and Ajayah Royale DeCree, 6. The cousins were visiting from Newark, New Jersey, for the summer.
The girls were pronounced dead at the scene, according to court records. Williams, who was arrested at the scene, confessed to the murders, police said. He remains in the county jail with no-bond status.
Police charged Williams with first-degree murder and labeled the crime as domestic violence, an offense committed the most in Prince George’s among all jurisdictions statewide.
In court Monday, Williams couldn’t contain himself as he sat at the defendant’s table.
“He’s here. No, no, no, no!” he said.
Kelley yelled to Williams, “Mommy loves you,” which caused some family members on the other side of the courtroom to explode in anger.
One person replied, “You should have been there in the beginning.”
When Kelley began to leave the courtroom, the deputies stood between her and the fathers of the victims as they cursed at her. Alsobrooks spokeswoman Gina Ford said Nadira was her father’s only child.
Alsobrooks admitted the hearing was one of the most heart-wrenching she’s observed.
“It was so excruciating,” she said. “You have two fathers in the courtroom grieving for their daughters expected to start first grade and the other starting third grade. They spent time school shopping for [them] last week. Instead, they we’re here determining how to bury their children.
“Be careful who you leave your children with,” Alsobrooks said. “Our children are all we have. Any individual who seems unfit in any way to be in the presence of a child, you cannot care for that child.”