A convicted sex offender could be sentenced to more than a millenium in prison for molesting two girls, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Horace Mann Williams, 44, is facing a penalty of up to 1,330 years in prison when he is sentenced Friday at the Murrieta Courthouse, said Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky.
Williams previously spent six years in prison for sexual molestation in the early 1990s.
He was convicted in February of 11 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 and one count of digital penetration of a child under 14, along with a sentence-enhancing allegation of multiple victims.
Outside court, jurors said they convicted Williams because he showed a pattern of behavior typical for child molesters.
“After a first offense and after a parole violation, he couldn't stay away from girls,” one juror said.
In his closing argument, Strunsky noted that over nearly 10 years, three girls made similar accusations against the defendant.
Personally, I think a sentence of 1,200 years would have been more appropriate. Berman added these thoughts about the penalty:
I think it is worth speculating whether Williams, if he had been threatened with the death penalty for repeat child rape, might have been more deterred after his release for his first offense. Obviously, the prospect of being subject to imprisonment for over a millenium did not keep Williams from molesting kids again. Though I doubt the distant threat of the a distant execution would have deterred Williams, I also see the good arguments for states to continue to consider experimenting with alternatives to incarceration for repeat sex offenders. Perhaps if states get serious about new approach to preventing repeat sex offending, somebody might figure out a better way to deal with these crimes before the year 3308 when Williams could be scheduled for release.
As commenters at SL&P have noted, I think Berman is overstating his case just a bit. The death penalty might have made a difference (depending upon empirical evidence of whether the death penalty actually deters crime), but it might also have encouraged the defendant to kill the victim (the "freebie" theory). Berman, as illustrated in the comments, has never bought into the freebie theory in such cases. I think it is an open empirical question. However, if you believe the death penalty would have deterred, I don't see how you can have it both ways in arguing that it wouldn't have at least encouraged some defendants to kill the victim. Berman makes a clever argument that the certainty of death is higher for the murder/rape than for the rape alone. While certainly true, even if one believes in deterrence for the death penalty generally, such fine-tuned math assessments have always seemed a bit beyond the capabilities of the average child rapist. And for Berman's argument to work, the following must be true: % death sentence for child rape and murder - % death sentence for child rape > % decrease in being caught by virtue of killing the only witness in a child rape. Again, I think many child rapists will roll the dice and kill the victim.