A federal jury in Scranton returned a verdict yesterday of life in prison for Jessie Con-Ui, 40, a federal inmate, for the first-degree murder of U.S. Correctional Officer Eric Williams. Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo scheduled the formal imposition of the life sentence for October 12.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Justice Department; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler for the Middle District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.
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, U.S. Penitentiary, in Waymart, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 25, 2013.
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. 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 for the District of 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 for the 2002 murder of Carlos Garcia in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I extend my sincere condolences to Officer Williams’s family, colleagues, and friends. The murder of a dedicated public servant in the line of duty, under such heinous circumstances, strikes at the core and soul of our nation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “We hope and pray that Officer Williams’s family will find some closure with the conclusion of these proceedings, and knowing that his dedicated service will always be remembered by a grateful nation.”
“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 U.S. Attorney Brandler. “The Phoenix, Arizona Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Phoenix Police Department; the Phoenix Department of Corrections; 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 Trial 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.”
“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.”
At the time of his death, Officer Williams was 34 years old, and a resident of Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania.
The charges against Con-Ui resulted from an investigation by the FBI, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.