Charges reinstated in 2007 murder case

Aug. 15, 2014 @ 03:21 PM

Charges against a first-degree murder defendant in Vance County who was declared incapable of standing trial have been reinstated as a procedural matter to ensure he remains in law enforcement custody.

Rodney McDonald Williams Jr., 35, of 3905 Southerland Mill Road, Henderson, is charged in the 2007 shooting death of 52-year-old Leo Harry Ziegler Jr.

He also faces an attempted murder charge for the non-life-threatening gunshot wounds his mother, Shirley Venable, sustained.

In 2009, Judge Paul Ridgeway declared Williams incapable of proceeding to trial based on psychiatric evaluations.

Following the ruling, then-prosecutor Kermit Ellis Jr. dismissed those first-degree murder and attempted murder charges with leave — which means they can be reinstated by the state under certain circumstances.

Ridgeway also ordered Williams be committed to a psychiatric treatment hospital pursuant to state law.

Allison Capps, who is now prosecuting the case, said Williams has remained in the hospital since then because it was determined he was a danger to himself or others.

Court documents reveal she recently reinstated the charges against Williams because that determination was overruled, and, as a result, he would be released from the hospital.

She said he could not be held in custody of the Vance County Sheriff’s Office if the charges remained dismissed with leave.

The shooting took place Feb. 27, 2007, when deputies from the Vance County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at 3904 Southerland Mill Road, Henderson, where they found a man dead — later identified as Ziegler.

They also found Venable, of 3904 Southerland Mill Road, Henderson, inside the home, and she had been shot several times, according to court documents.

A search warrant of Williams’ trailer led to the seizure of a wallet, seven shell casings and a plastic bag with a green leafy substance, according to court documents.

On the morning of Feb. 27, 2007, a SBI Special Response Team was at Williams’ home to serve him with an arrest warrant. The response team located Williams hiding under a vehicle at a neighbor’s house, according to court documents.

Williams has a history of violent behavior well documented in the court system.

He faced three serious assault charges three prior times in Vance County.

In 1996, he was charged with beating and kicking a man, causing broken teeth and damage to his vertebrae.

Williams ultimately pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and received a sentence of 23 to 29 months in prison.

That punishment was suspended in lieu of three years of intensive supervised probation.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.