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DA Dropped Charges Twice On Violent Suspect Before He Allegedly Killed Baby

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has denied responsibility for failing to charge a repeat domestic violence suspect who has since been accused of murdering a seven-month-old baby.

Joseph Williams, 26, was booked into the San Francisco Jail on April 22 for allegedly killing seven-month-old Synciere Williams, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Investigators said the infant and the suspect are not related, despite them having the same last name, according to the paper.

Police described Joseph Williams in court documents as the baby’s “adult male caregiver,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Joseph Williams brought the unresponsive infant to the California Pacific Medical Center at approximately 12:53 p.m. on April 20, according to police.

Synciere Williams was pronounced dead at the hospital.

His body had signs of trauma, so medial staff notified the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), the Medical Examiner’s Office, and Child Protective Services, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Joseph Williams was subsequently charged with multiple counts, including murder and assault on a child causing death.

Boudin, 40, confirmed the baby died from blunt force trauma, but investigators have not released details regarding the investigation, the New York Post reported.

Joseph Williams remained incarcerated without bond on Monday.

The suspect was arrested on two occasions earlier this year for allegedly assaulting a woman he was in a relationship with, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The first incident occurred on Jan. 7, when Joseph Williams allegedly got into a shoving match with his then-girlfriend near Montgomery Street and Market Street, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Sergeant Michael Andraychak said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A 10-month-old girl was in a stroller near the couple at the time, police noted.

The victim later told police she and Joseph Williams had gotten into an argument at their apartment and that he had grabbed her by the throat before storming out of the residence, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The couple then began arguing outside.

The victim complained about her neck being bruised as a result of the attack, but she refused medical treatment, Sgt. Andraychak said.

Joseph Williams was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, and child endangerment as a result of the incident.

The SFPD dealt with the couple again on March 26, after they received a report of a baby crying and a woman screaming inside an apartment located in the 700-block of O’Farrell Street, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The victim, who had an abrasion on her forehead and a lacerated lip, told police Joseph Williams had punched her and shoved her into a cabinet, according to Sgt. Andraychak.

She said they had been arguing about their relationship and that she told him to leave and tried to push him out of the residence, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Joseph Williams was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and false imprisonment in connection with the incident in March.

Boudin’s office ultimately refused to file charges in either case, and blamed the victim for her alleged lack of cooperation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Given the lack of cooperation with prosecution, we were unable to move forward with either of those cases,” Boudin’s spokesperson, Rachel Marshall, told the paper.

Marshall said the events that led up to Synciere Williams’ murder “speaks to the need for better services and responses to domestic violence reports,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Domestic violence advocates blasted the district attorney, arguing that domestic violence is a crime against the state under California law and that it is Boudin’s job to find a way to prosecute such cases, the Daily Mail reported.

La Casa des las Madres Executive Director Kathy Black said the responsibility falls squarely on Boudin.

“Domestic violence is a crime against the state of California, and the district attorney’s job is to work with what the police department has gathered at the crime scene and develop the evidence to present a case,” Black said.

“That’s his job, not the victim’s job,” she added.

The SFPD arrested 131 offenders on allegations of felony domestic violence during the last three months of 2020, the Daily Mail reported.

Boudin’s office charged 12 of those cases as felonies, dropped one down to a misdemeanor, and dismissed 113, according to the news outlet.

The remaining five cases are still under review.

Caitlyn Jenner, who is running for the California governor’s seat, accused prosecutors throughout the state for failing to hold violent offenders accountable.

“[California Governor Gavin Newsom’s] District Attorneys across California are releasing dangerous criminals back on to our streets,” Jenner tweeted on Saturday. “Enough is enough.”

She said the murder of Synciere Williams was “horrible and also avoidable.”

Boudin is the son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, two members of The Weather Underground who were convicted of murdering two police officers and a Brinks security guard during an armed robbery in 1981, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Boudin was endorsed by Presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), singer John Legend, and the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, as well as several first-term radical liberal prosecutors including Chicago’s beleaguered Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx and Philadelphia’s cop-hating district attorney, Larry Krasner.

Activist Shaun King’s Real Justice PAC and a lot of other money from outside the state of California filled the public defender’s campaign coffers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Boudin was 14 months old when both of his parents left him with a sitter while they committed an armored car robbery in upstate New York, NBC News reported.

After his parents went to prison, he was raised by The Weather Underground’s leaders, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, in a life of privilege that led him to Yale University.

After college, Boudin won a Rhodes scholarship and then worked as a translator for the late Communist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to NBC News.

“Growing up, I had to go through a metal detector and steel gates just to give my parents a hug,” Boudin said in one of his campaign videos.

His mother, Kathy Boudin, was released from prison in 2003 after serving 22 years for the murders, but his father, David Gilbert, remains behind bars serving life in prison, NBC News reported.

The public defender ran his campaign on criminal justice reform, claiming that he was also a “victim” of his parents’ armed robbery in 1981 that left three people dead, two of them police officers.

Boudin has claimed he was motivated to run for office because he has experienced the results of the “destructive effects of mass incarceration,” NBC News reported.

He promptly fired several senior prosecutors just two days after he was sworn into office in January of 2020, KTVU reported.

“I had to make difficult staffing decisions today in order to put in place a management team that will help me accomplish the work I committed to do for San Francisco,” Boudin said in a written statement released after the terminations became public.

In February, the notoriously anti-police district attorney announced a host of criminal justice reforms that allowed, among other things, gun-toting criminals to stay on the streets.

Boudin said that San Francisco prosecutors will no longer charge suspects for contraband found by police during “stop-and-frisk” searches conducted during the course of another interaction, KTVU reported at the time.

That means that going forward, if officers find a gun or drugs inside a vehicle while conducting a traffic stop for a vehicle violation, for example, the district attorney’s office won’t charge the person for the illegal gun or drugs, KTVU reported.

Boudin also announced that the district attorney’s office would no longer apply California’s three-strike law.

And he made good on a campaign promise to do away with gang enhancements to charges that frequently put gang members behind bars for many years longer than called for by the crime they committed, according to KTVU.

“Today we take action. We send a message that is loud and clear to the police department and to communities of color. We will no longer participate in, condone, tolerate or amplify racist police tactics,” Boudin declared at the time.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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