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Man guilty of murder in Peppers Market shooting

'There’s no win for nobody,' defendant's friend says

POSTED: June 27, 2014 12:29 a.m.

Joseph Williams, the man accused of shooting down Adrian Thompson outside Peppers Grocery & Market, was found guilty Thursday in Gainesville of murder.

More than 20 Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies helped orchestrate an orderly and emotionally contained verdict reading. But once jurors and Williams’ supporters were moved out, Thompson’s loved ones embraced in the courtroom in a moment of catharsis.

“I know when I go to bed tonight I’m going to sleep good,” Thompson’s mother Luvonne Lipscomb said. “Justice has been served.”

She said although she felt confident in the outcome, the trial had been a tense experience.

“As a mother, you can’t help but worry,” she said.

With clear, close surveillance footage capturing the June 3, 2013, confrontation, the defense for Williams had faced a seemingly uphill battle since opening statements in Hall County Superior Court.

Friends of Williams spoke after the verdict as well, including defense witness Anthony Tate, who said Williams was bullied by Thompson and fought back.

“There’s no justice period. You got one man dead and one man going to be gone for a long time,” he said.

Tate said the children of both are now fatherless.

“So there’s no win for nobody. Nobody can hold a smile about this,” he said.

Mac Lipscomb, uncle of Thompson, called on the supporters gathered to love and embrace those who had sat behind Williams during the trial, especially the children.

“They can’t pass that on. It has to stop right here,” he said. “It’s about us loving our enemies. ... We must learn how to forgive.

“At the end of the day, you all still live in Gainesville,” he added.

The notion of community was one of the final themes in Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva’s closing arguments.

“This case is not just about Adrian. It’s about the kids; the community,” Sachdeva said. “(Williams) shot someone with complete disdain in broad daylight in the middle of Hall County.”

Joseph Williams’ attorney Senior Public Defender Travis Williams said in closing arguments his client acted in self-defense after being provoked by Thompson.

“(Williams) isn’t going to come at Adrian if he doesn’t have to,” Travis Williams said. “It’s a volatile situation.”

That animosity was prompted in large measure by a woman, as accounts went. Joseph Williams’ ex-wife, Chassity Thompson, left him while he was in prison and married the man he had considered a friend and mentor.

Travis Williams said the incident could only be understood in the context of “humiliation,” “volatility” and “intimidation” that surrounded the men’s 20-year acquaintance.

But Sachdeva said their history only solidified Williams’ motive, rather than explain away a violent, merciless action.

Presiding Judge Jason Deal said a sentencing hearing would be set at a later date. Friends on both sides will have the opportunity to talk about the loss of Thompson and mitigating and aggravating factors for Deal to consider in sentencing.

A murder conviction carries an automatic mandatory minimum life sentence, however, Deal will decide if Williams could be eligible for parole — at an earliest date of 35 years — or live the rest of his life in prison.

Times reporter Joshua Silavent contributed to this report.


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