Attack on defendant disrupts murder sentencing

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Tears turned to punches Thursday in a Mahoning County Common Pleas courtroom after family and friends of a woman who was shot and killed attacked the defendant at his sentencing hearing.

Sentencing was postponed for another date by Judge Maureen Sweeney for Dale Williams, 59, who was expected to receive a sentence of 23 years to life for the June 15, 2017, shooting death of Elizabeth Stewart, 46, in rush hour traffic on Market Street.

As a son and daughter of Stewart approached the podium to give a victim impact statement, the son instead lunged for Williams, who was seated at a table with his lawyer Ross Smith.

Deputies swarmed to the table but so did some family and friends as shouting erupted in the courtroom. A man dressed in red managed to get to Williams while a deputy was trying to drag Williams out of the courtroom by his legs.

The man in red managed to get on top of Williams and threw several punches at his head before a deputy stunned him twice with an electronic weapon.

“He killed my mother, man!” the man in red shouted. The other son of Stewart was also in custody and Williams was taken out of the courtroom. Everyone in the courtroom was ordered to leave.

Judge Sweeney met with both defense attorneys and decided to postpone the sentencing. Two people were arrested, but sheriff’s officials did not release their names as of late Thursday afternoon.

Just before court started, another member of Stewart’s family was asked to leave because she could not stop sobbing loudly. She left without incident.

The sister that was to make the victim impact statement was also asked to leave, but she walked up to the podium with her brother before he lunged for Williams. She stayed where she was and watched.

Police said Williams stalked Stewart, who tried to make a report with Boardman police the night before she was killed that Williams had threatened her. The morning of her death he waited for her to drive to work on Market Street, then rammed her car from behind, pushed it into a building near West Hylda Avenue and shot her several times as she begged for her life. A police officer who was in traffic arrested Williams, who authorities said wanted a police officer to shoot him.

A detective who interogated Williams said he complained about “insensitive “ drivers who would not let him out in rush hour traffic just before he managed to get behind Stewart and ram her car into the building.

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