CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Bryan W. Williams Jr., 20, will spend 15 years in prison for murdering Virginia State University student and Hopewell native Eric Wilkins Jr.
Williams faced a life-prison sentence had he been convicted on the first-degree murder charge he originally faced. He made a deal to plead guilty to reduced charges of 2nd degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
As part of the deal, the judge sentenced Williams to 43 years in prison, but suspended 28 of those years.
Williams killed Wilkins, 22, at a party in an apartment complex near the Virginia State University campus in November 2013.
Williams’ lawyer said the shooting happened when a man showed up at the party and started a fight. Williams, his lawyer said, reacted by pulling the gun and firing.
Williams said he was not aiming at anyone, he was just trying to stop the fight.
One of two bullets Williams fired hit and killed Wilkins.
Before he left for the party Williams said his mother told him he should stay home because she did not trust the friend who invited him. After sentencing Williams to prison, the judge told him he should have listened to his mother.
When asked about the plea deal, Wilkins’ mother Jessica Thomas said regardless of the charge, nothing would bring her son back.