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ALLEGAN, Mich. (April 2, 2014)– An Allegan County judge is deciding whether or not a man who confessed to raping and murdering two little girls in 1966 and 1967 will get an opportunity to ask a jury to go free.
Ted Williams was locked up under an old law that allowed some of those who were sentenced to a mental hospital the opportunity to ask for a new trial yearly to prove they are no longer mentally ill and a threat to society.
Williams admitted 40 years ago to killing Sonya Santa Cruz, 7, of Grand Rapids and Laura Jo Sutliffe, 13, of Sparta.
Brief arguments regarding how to proceed were given in court Wednesday by Allegan County prosecutors and Williams’ defense attorney.
However, a relative, who says she is a former victim, is fighting against his release.
Ted Williams’ niece, Jeannie Carley, was in the courtroom Wednesday.
“He tortured, raped and then murdered. He put those little girls through a nightmare they should have never been put through.” Carley said. “I was molested and he tried to drown me when I was three. As far as I know, I am the only living victim. And I am here to do whatever I can to make sure that man never walks free again.”
Retired Michigan State Police Detective Bob Golm said Williams’ wife actually babysat for Laura Jo’s family, putting him in a position of trust with the 13-year-old he was convicted of raping and killing.
Carley said that was how Williams was able to gain access to his victims.
“Now their families are having to go through the same nightmare,” said Carley. “He should never walk free. He’s not changed in the last 40 some years. He’s just learned the buzz words for the courts and the things the court likes to hear.”
Williams appeared by phone during Wednesday’s hearing in Allegan County.
His only comments during the proceedings were that he couldn’t hear very well at first, otherwise he remained quiet.
Allegan County Circuit Judge Kevin Cronin will decide whether Williams’ case will go before a jury and how the case will proceed.
Some of the considerations will involve his psychiatric evaluations and new mental health rules as well as whether this will proceed as a civil or criminal matter.
Williams spent most of his life locked up in psychiatric hospitals under his conviction under that law.
Carley said if he’s set free, he should be charged with murder.
“I am worried that if they give him a new trial that since it was so long ago, people may have forgotten,” said Carley. “He is an evil man. He’s a criminal sexual psychopath and there’s no curing that and if they do let him out of the mental institution, then it is time for him to go to prison and pay for it.”
“Those little girls don’t get to wake up from their graves and say I’ve got the rest of my life ahead of me. Why should he?” she said.
Judge Cronin didn’t give a timeline on when he may decide whether Williams’ case should go before a jury.
He did give some time deadlines for motions and discovery in the case.