J. Mayo moved from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Atlanta,
so that he could pursue his dream of obtaining the finest
possible college education at Morehouse College – which he
attended on an Army ROTC Academic scholarship while working
on his degree in psychology. Ironically, his minor was criminal
wanted to expose other young men to the world of opportunities
he had obtained for himself. It was Williams’s belief at heart
that he could help make a difference in the lives of young
people through a mentoring program. In November of 1991, William
drove two young men – Tyrone Wilson and Dale Thomas -- from
Chicago to Atlanta for the Morehouse College homecoming weekend.
It was William’s hope that the visit would demonstrate to
the young men what college life was like, and that it would
encourage them to seek a better life than what they were living
in Chicago. They arrived in Atlanta on November 3, 1991.
evening, around 7:15 to 7:30, William made a stop in Smyrna
(a small town outside of Atlanta located in Cobb County)
that would forever change his life.
retrieved some clothing and personal items from an acquaintance
who had stored them for him until he could return from
Chicago to pick them up. The two young men accompanying
William remained in the car while he picked up his belongings.
the time William was as at the house, these two young
men burglarized and robbed a home that was two doors
away from the house were William was. According to many
statements made by the men themselves, their intent
was to go to the house where William was, rob him, and
steal from anyone who would have been in the house.
In a May 2004 interview with Atlanta’s WAOK, one of
the two men (Wilson), repeated his often-made statement
that he and Thomas had planned all along to steal from
William, turning the trip into an easy crime spree.
they went to the wrong house. Having planned to commit
crimes, however, Wilson and Thomas decided to make
the most of the moment.
terrorized a bi-racial, middle aged couple for about
10 to 20 minutes, tying them up with telephone cord
before stealing jewelry and small items from the
house. The duo was able to make it back to the car
just before William returned with his belongings.
William drove away without any knowledge that a
crime had taken place. The car was pulled over upon
entry onto the interstate by police officers with
their guns drawn. William and the two young men
were arrested, taken into custody and charged with
burglary, armed robbery and aggravated assault.
though the victims initially reported seeing only
two attackers, and though the young men themselves
eventually stated in court appeal hearings that
William had nothing to do with the robbery, William
was slammed with two life sentences for armed
robbery, and two 20-year sentences for the aggravated
assault charges. The victims suffered no
serious injuries during their attack.
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