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More than two dozen State...

More than two dozen State Representatives urge Mississippi Parole Board not to release James Williams, III

By: Anne Summerhays - May 9, 2023

(Photo of James Williams from the Mississippi Department of Corrections website)

The lawmakers say it would be a miscarriage of justice and contrary to the best interest of the citizens of the state, as well as the victims’ families, to grant the parole.

James Williams, III was convicted of murdering his father, James Williams, Jr., and stepmother, Cindy Lassiter Mangum, in Mississippi in 2005. Williams, who was 17 at the time of the 2002 murders, was originally sentenced to two consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole.

However, Williams is set to be released around May 16th due to a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juveniles should be given the possibility of parole.

Many individuals have expressed concern about the parole of Williams. Currently, about 1,762 individuals have signed an online petition to stop his release.

Additionally, several Mississippi state representatives wrote a letter to Mississippi Parole Board Chairman Jeffery Belk to urge the Board to rescind the parole order for James Williams, III. 

State Representatives Becky Currie, Lester Carpenter, Mark Tullus, Randy Boyd, Troy Smith, Price Wallace, Tracy Arnold, Dan Eubanks, Dana McLean, Jerry Darnell, Dale Goodin, Donnie Scoggins, Hank Zuber, Jerry Turner, Timmy Ladner, Stacey Wilkes, Carolyn Crawford, Vince Mangold, Tom Weathersby, Chris Brown, Jill Ford, Randy Rushing, Brady Williamson, Steve Hopkins, Shane Aguirre, Kevin Felsher, and Billy Adam Calvert signed the letter.

“As law-abiding and concerned citizens, it is with great consternation and trepidation that we feel the need to write this letter in support of the family, the life-time victims of James Williams, III, who has been granted parole by this board,” the lawmakers wrote.

The state representatives argued that the very nature of his crimes show not only his will to carry out the murders, but the premeditation stage of planning the poison first, then moving on to shooting the victims and finally the stage of dismemberment and disposal of their bodies to avoid detection.

“No crime of passion can be claimed, no momentary lapse of control, and no blackout scenarios. The very nature of the type of crimes and the methodical plan to brutally kill and dismember his own family shows the true nature of this individual,” the legislators wrote.

The lawmakers conveyed that they have received numerous complaints from their constituents expressing dire concern over the status of the parolee. 

“How do we tell them that two, not one but two, life sentences to be served consecutively actually means only 20 years?” the lawmakers asked. “It is our contention that justice requires that Williams pay the penalty imposed at sentencing for the heinous crimes he admittedly committed. His 17-year-old self knew that murder was wrong but did it anyway. His victims are two-fold, those he shot and dismembered, and those who live daily with the loss of family he took away.”

“We feel it would be a miscarriage of justice and contrary to the best interest of the citizens of the state of Mississippi, as well as the two victims’ families, to grant parole,” the lawmakers concluded. “We urge the Mississippi Parole Board to rescind the parole order for James Williams, III.” 

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: