Four months to the day that corrections officer Eric Williams was stabbed to death while on duty at a federal prison in Wayne County, the inmate that federal officials say is responsible has been charged with first-degree murder.
Jean Williams, Eric’s mother, in a brief phone conversation said: “We knew this day was coming and finally it’s here. We really don’t have any other comment.”
A federal grand jury in Scranton returned an indictment Tuesday charging Jessie Con-Ui with the murder of Williams, of Nanticoke.
Con-Ui, 36, was charged in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania with one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree murder of a U.S. corrections officer and one count of possessing contraband in prison.
The indictment alleges Con-Ui killed Williams, 34, on Feb. 25, in a premeditated attack at the Canaan Federal Correction Complex near Waymart. According to the indictment, Con-Ui stabbed Williams with a sharpened weapon and struck him repeatedly.
If convicted, Con-Ui faces a maximum penalty of death or life in prison.
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 Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
A spokeswoman said U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith had no comment on the indictment and charges.
Phillip Glover, regional vice president for the American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals, the union that represents prison guards, hailed the news.
“The union is pleased the justice system is moving forward and has formally charged the inmate in the horrible murder of Officer Eric Williams,” said Glover. “We believe the charge is appropriate and believe the inmate will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Following the deadly attack, Con-Ui was transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood. After a stay there he was sent to the Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo., which according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons “houses offenders requiring the tightest controls.” He remains there today.
A message left with his attorney, James Swetz, of Stroudsburg, was not returned Tuesday.
Williams’ funeral at St. Faustina Kowalska Parish in Nanticoke drew hundreds of mourners, including fellow corrections officers, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Charles E. Samuels, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, who told those gathered “We’re going to do everything we can to bring the perpetrator to justice for this ruthless and senseless act.”
Williams “will forever be a hero in our agency,” Samuels said, adding that his name would be inscribed in the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Correctional Workers’ Memorial at the prison bureau headquarters, also in Washington. “His loss will not be in vain.”
Williams was the 24th federal prison employee to be killed in the line of duty since 1901.
Con-Ui was at Canaan serving an 11-year prison sentence stemming from a 2003 guilty plea for his role in a wide-scale drug ring run by the New Mexican Mafia. Following that sentence he was set to begin serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in 2008 to first-degree murder.