Jury finds Cortez Williams guilty in 2013 homicide

By Tyler Emken

March 12, 2014 Updated Mar 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A Peoria County jury has found Cortez Williams, 25, guilty of murder for a 2013 shooting that killed Melvin Sanders.

Williams testified Wednesday that he shot first because he felt that he was being threatened.

Williams said that he saw Sanders reach into his jacket in a way that suggested he had a gun. Williams said he didn't see Sanders with a gun, but opened fire.

He said he had reason to be afraid of Sanders because Sanders punched him in the face during an altercation a week before the September 21 shooting. The initial meeting between the two did not occur at the residence in the 1600 block of Stanley Street where the shooting took place.

After the shooting, Williams said he ran from the scene and was run over by one of Sanders' cousins. Williams was able to get to his vehicle and flee the scene before later being pulled over by police and arrested.

During cross examination, Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Mermelstein asked Williams why he would go back to an area where he felt he needed to be armed.

Williams said he did not expect to run into Sanders again after their initial confrontation and was only in the area in an attempt to meet women. He said he had seen media reports of violent crime in the area and wanted to protect himself.

The jury found him guilty of Murder. He faces up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 2.

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