SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a federal jury in Scranton returned a verdict July 10th for life imprisonment for Jessie Con-Ui, age 40, a federal inmate, for the first-degree murder of U.S. Correctional Officer Eric Williams.
The killing took place at the federal prison, USP Canaan, near Waymart in Wayne County.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo scheduled the formal imposition of the life sentence for October 12, 2017.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, on June 7, 2017, the same jury convicted Con-Ui of “willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation and malice aforethought” killing Officer Williams while he was engaged in the performance of his duties at the Canaan Federal Correctional Complex, United States Penitentiary, on February 25, 2013.
Stabbed over 200 times
The evidence at trial established that Con-Ui, armed with two sharpened weapons (commonly known as “shanks”), positioned himself at the top of a metal stairway as Correctional Officer Williams ascended the stairway leading to the second floor of a housing unit within the prison. Inmate Con-Ui kicked Correctional Officer Williams down the stairs and then stabbed him over 200 times with the weapons. Con-Ui also repeatedly kicked and stomped on Correctional Officer Williams causing massive fatal injuries.
At the time of the murder, Con-Ui was serving an 11-year federal sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, imposed by the United States District Court, in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005.
Con-Ui was also serving a concurrent life sentence for first-degree murder imposed by the Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix, Arizona, in 2008. In connection with that event, Con-Ui shot and killed Carlos Garcia on August 25, 2002, in Phoenix, Arizona.
At the time of his death, Correctional Officer Eric Williams was 34-years-old, and a resident of Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania.
“A correctional officer has one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement. Eric Williams was performing that job at USP Canaan, when was he blindsided and brutalized by Jessie Con-Ui,” said Michael Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division.” The heinous violence inflicted upon Correctional Officer Williams cost a dedicated federal officer his life. At the Philadelphia FBI, our hearts go out to the Williams family and all who knew and loved Eric.”
“We are extremely disappointed with the jury’s verdict, but I want to highlight the outstanding work of all the men and women who worked on this case for over four years,” said United States Attorney Brandler.
“The Phoenix, Arizona Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Phoenix Police Department, the Phoenix Department of Corrections, and the Phoenix Juvenile Justice Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia; the Scranton, Pennsylvania Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Unit and legal support staff, and Assistant United States Attorneys Fran P. Sempa and Robert J. O’Hara and Department of Justice Capital Case Section Attorney Robert J. Feitel, all performed their roles in exemplary fashion and deserve our appreciation for their tireless efforts in the prosecution of this case,” he said.
Apologized in court
The Associated Press reported that Con-Ui expressed apology to Williams’ family and others in Court on June 29th, for killing the correctional officer. He reportedly acknowledged he had taken an innocent man’s life and caused “much heartache and pain.” He said he stabbed Williams because he felt “disrespected” by a search of his cell. The defendant expressed regret that he could not take back what happened.
Con-Ui was represented by court-appointed attorney David A. Ruhnke.
The trial began June 5, 2017. Having convicted Con-Ui of First Degree Murder, the jury on July 9 began deliberations. They were asked to decide between a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.