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May 25 11:52 AM

Two-decades-old murder case settled with plea agreement

A man convicted of murder as a teen two decades ago and whose death sentence was changed to life without parole soon will be a free man.

Corey Williams was 16 when he was arrested for the Jan. 4, 1998, slaying of pizza delivery man Jarvis Griffin in the Queensborough neighborhood. Williams was sentenced to death, but later was determined to be mentally retarded.

Following a 2002 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the mentally retarded cannot be executed, his death sentence was changed to life without parole.

"Questions later arose about his case, as well as some legal issues, but today it was all resolved by a plea agreement," Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Owen Williams, Appellate Section Chief with the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office, said Monday. "His first-degree murder conviction and sentence were vacated and he pled guilty to manslaughter."

Corey Williams then was sentenced to 20 years hard labor with credit for the time he has served. He also pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and was sentenced to seven years hard labor, suspended, with three years supervised probation to run consecutively to the manslaughter conviction.

Corey Williams agreed to waive all appeals and potential claims of civil liability in exchange for the plea. The plea also puts an end to Corey Williams' efforts to get the United States Supreme Court to reverse his conviction.

The agreement was approved by Caddo Parish District Judge Katherine Dorroh.

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