Suspect in slaying of boy, 7, was on probation for molesting 2 girls


Because of incorrect information supplied by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, The Sun reported incorrectly yesterday that a malicious destruction of property conviction was among the offenses for which Stephone Williams was on probation at the time of his arrest for murder Tuesday.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The 29-year-old man charged yesterday with the sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old East Baltimore boy was free on probation after having served a prison sentence for sexually molesting two young girls in 1988, according to the police and court records.

Stephone Jonathan Williams, who the police said has used 13 aliases, had been given a 10-year prison sentence with all but two years suspended after he pleaded guilty in July 1989 to child abuse and a second-degree sex offense in the crimes involving the two younggirls, then ages 4 and 7.

He was released last July to begin five years' probation. He also had been placed on at least one other probation for unrelated crimes, according to court records and officials.

Mr. Williams was arrested about 10:35 p.m. Tuesday while visiting relatives in the 1100 block of East Preston Street. Although he was wanted for questioning in the murder and sexual assault last Friday of 7-year-old Rodney James Champy Jr., he was formally picked up on a warrant charging him with a robbery Monday of a 10-year-old boy who reported also being fondled during the crime, the police said.

The murder of Rodney Champy and the robbery of the 10-year-old both occurred in the same housing project in the 1500 block of Lester Morton Court.

Homicide Detective Oscar L. Requer said Mr. Williams, who is known as "Fonz," was taken to police headquarters where he was questioned and presented with court papers allowing the police to confiscate his clothing and to take hair and blood samples.

He was then charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, a deadly weapon violation, a first-degree sex offense, a second-degree sex offense and sodomy, the detective said.

Mr. Williams was being held last night at the Eastern District lockup awaiting a bail hearing.

According to court records, Mr. Williams was arrested July 6, 1988, by Baltimore youth division detectives after a doctor examined the 4-year-old daughter of Mr. Williams' girlfriend and found evidence of sexual abuse. Subsequent interviews with that child and her older sister led to Mr. Williams' arrest.

A year later, he pleaded guilty to child abuse and a second-degree sex offense before Circuit Judge John N. Prevas as part of a plea bargain in the case. He was given a 10-year sentence -- reduced to two years -- and allowed to apply toward that two-year sentence the eight months he had spent in the Baltimore City Jail awaiting trial.

According to court records, Mr. Williams' five years of probation were to begin upon his release from prison, which turned out to be July 1990. Officials of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said they were unable to immediately ascertain the circumstances of his release from prison before the end of his two-year term; Mr. Williams' numerous aliases caused some confusion in their records that could not be cleared up yesterday.

But state corrections officials said a warrant had been issued for Mr. Williams' arrest on Oct. 17, 1990 -- three months after his release -- for violating conditions of supervised probation from an earlier conviction, in Dec. 4, 1984, for malicious destruction of property. That probation was to continue until July 1993.

Susan G. Kaskie, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said she could not explain why the warrant was never served.

Detective Requer said Mr. Williams had been a suspect since police first found the body of the Champy boy in the sparsely furnished apartment he shared with his mother, Jacqueline Cumberbatch, in the 1500 block of Lester Morton Court.

Ms. Cumberbatch told the police that she and her son first met Mr. Williams a couple of weeks ago as they struggled to carry home an old desk and chair they had found in a nearby trash bin.

Ms. Cumberbatch said Mr. Williams helped them carry the desk and chair home and then returned a couple days later with a screwdriver to repair a wobbly leg on the desk.

Detective Requer said the police believe that Mr. Williams went back to the apartment last Friday and attacked the young boy as he was about to leave the apartment for the Thomas G. Hayes Elementary School, where he was in the second grade. His mother had already left for work at a nearby laundry.

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