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Branstad calls for public hearing before releasing convicted murderer Rasberry Williams

Anamosa State Penitentiary
Anamosa State Penitentiary

DES MOINES – Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has called for a public hearing before acting on a positive recommendation from the Iowa Board of Parole for sentence commutation for a convicted murderer from Waterloo.

Rasberry Williams began serving a life sentence for murder on April 26th, 1975.

On July 20, 1974, Williams shot and killed Lester Givhan outside George’s Pool Hall in Waterloo, Iowa. At trial Williams argued he shot Givhan in self-defense, testifying Givhan displayed a gun inside the pool hall after Williams demanded the return of $30.00 Givhan owed him. Williams went to his car to get his pistol, confronted Givhan again outside the pool hall, and shot him after further argument about the debt and after Givhan again displayed a gun. From the trial testimony, the jury could reasonably have found that Williams deliberately confronted Givhan outside the pool hall and killed him with malice, not in self-defense.

Rasberry Williams, age 66
Rasberry Williams, age 66

“The purpose of the hearing,” a press release from Branstad’s office says, “is to seek information about how the crime impacted the victims and the community, whether Mr. Williams has changed while incarcerated, any and all safety concerns from victims and members of the community, and any other relevant information.”

According to a letter to the Iowa Parole Board from Branstad requesting the public hearing, letters of support from Williams’ family and community as well as John Fayram, Warden at Anamosa State Penitentiary have been reviewed by Branstad.

The hearing will be held, and public comment received, at the Black Hawk County Courthouse from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

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