According to her father, Princess Williams “was a member of the girls’ basketball team, at Flagler Palm Coast High school, a shift manager at Steak and Shake and had plans to enroll in the Culinary Management program at Daytona State College.”
Now 22 and at the Flagler County jail for the past 15 months, on $50,000 bond, Williams this morning pleaded to three charges today, two of which could send her to prison for the rest of her life. She faces a minimum of 25 years in prison with no possibility of early release. She was charged in October 2018 of attempted felony murder in the shooting of 19-year-old Carl Saint-Felix in Palm Coast, and also charged with armed robbery and armed burglary.
The attempted murder and armed burglary charges are punishable by up to life. The armed robbery charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Williams, who spoke little as Circuit Judge Terence Perkins questioned her, tendered what’s called an open plea, which means that Perkins could sentence her to anything from the minimum mandatory requirement of 25 years in prison to life, unless the prosecution alters the charges.
That’s rare, but not impossible. “That may modify at some point but there’s no guarantees,” Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark said. Perkins deferred sentencing to July 17.
Still, Perkins wanted to impress on Williams the meaning of her no-contest plea to the three charges. “My discretion is limited based on what they charge,” he told her, referring to the prosecution. “There’s no guarantee they’re going to change that.”
He then ruled–and got agreement from Williams’s attorney, Steven Robinson–that there was “sufficient facts to support” Williams’s plea based on the charging affidavit, which briefly summarizes the events of Oct. 16, 2018, when Williams went to the area of 590 Whitestar Drive in Palm Coast, ostensibly to buy pot from Saint-Felix, but, in fact, to rob him of the pot and cash.
“The defendant arranged with as yet uncharged co-defendants to set up a drug deal and lure the victim to a location in Flagler County,” according to an earlier motion by the state to keep Williams in jail. “When the victim arrived, two persons entered the backseat of the victim’s car. The defendant walked up to the car within a few minutes, opened up the back door, entered the victim’s vehicle, pointed a handgun at the victim and fired the gun. The bullet entered the victim’s neck causing severe injury. As of the writing of this motion, the victim is still in critical condition.” The motion was filed 10 days after the shooting. “After shooting the victim, the defendant and the as of yet uncharged co-defendants fled the scene without calling anyone to help the victim.”
The next day, Williams went to the Daytona Beach Police Department of her own volition and asked to speak to George Hristakopoulos, a detective in the Major Crimes Unit at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Department. Hristakopoulos and fellow-detective Nicole Quintieri met with Williams, and, according to her arrest report, she voluntarily confessed to being the shooter, what the prosecution’s subsequent motion described as admitting “to conspiring to rob the victim as well as being the individual who shot the victim.”
Williams today appeared in good spirits, at times laughing with a fellow-inmate, before her case was called up and she stood facing the judge next to her attorney. A few family members or friends were in the gallery.
Her father in a letter to the court last year, describing himself as a 24-year Army veteran and a 20-year veteran of the corrections system, pleaded for leniency. “Because of what I witnessed, as a father it has always been my intent to provide Princess a stable, structured environment accompanied with a strong sense of morals,” he wrote. “I instilled in her positive principals and outstanding qualities to become a productive citizen. The horrific actions displayed that October night were not the actions of the daughter I have reared.”
“Unfortunately,” he continued, “in an effort to gain a sense of belonging, she began to associate with a ‘clique’ and began to engage in activities that were not legally upstanding. Because of this desire the terrible [events] of October 16 occurred. I know that she accepts full responsibility for her actions, not placing blame on anyone clearly understanding and acknowledging the hardship and devastation that was caused by minutes of her unthoughtful actions. As a father who has vowed to continue to support her, I am asking that you please consider her age and this being her first offense and grant her leniency. Although prepared to pay for her actions it is her desire to one-day return to being a productive citizen by giving back. She has realized that she can be a testament to other young women who find themselves in similar situations.”