Lancaster man’s attempted federal appeal of 2010 conviction in fatal shooting of police informant denied

LANCASTER — A Lancaster man’s conviction and life sentence for killing a police informant 10 years ago will stand after his request to appeal the first-degree murder conviction in federal court was denied, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.

Yaquan “Squeeze” Williams was convicted in 2010 in the shooting death of Mary Johnson, 35. Prosecutors say Williams, now 38, shot the woman several times in the back.

Johnson, despite being mortally wounded, identified Williams as her killer.

Williams appealed his conviction, arguing that his attorneys were ineffective. All of his local and state appeals have been exhausted, according to the Lancaster County DA, and his most recent filing for allowance to formally appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In a short memo, a federal appeals judge wrote that Williams has failed to demonstrate his attorneys’ “alleged errors” had impact on his conviction.

Williams’ filings mention witnesses he believed should have been called at trial, testimony that should have been suppressed and other alleged shortcomings by his attorneys.

Assistant District Attorney Ande Gonzalez represented the Commonwealth on the federal post-conviction motions.

In its denial, the federal court included a recent report from a previous denial of appeal that elaborates on Williams’ arguments.

Among what is discussed:

  • Johnson’s statement to a detective that Williams had threatened to kill Johnson was fair game at trial. – Williams’ claim that his defense should have called to testify “an unbiased eyewitness” to the shooting who would have identified another suspect was without merit. That eyewitness was interviewed by police and his statement did not align with what Williams claimed.
  • Police had probable cause to stop Williams’ vehicle, leading to his arrest.
  • A detective’s testimony that an eyewitness was being truthful was allowed at trial.
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