A man in Syracuse, N.Y., may be spending the rest of his life in prison after murdering another man over the slang term “Deez Nuts.”
Jashua Williams, 32, was recently sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of A’Nickalus Hill over the popular slang term.
Williams decided to shoot his roommate because Hill complained about Williams saying the term in front of a child, prosecutors said.
A popular rejoinder and source of humor for years, “Deez Nuts” enjoyed a resurgence in 2015 thanks to a fake presidential campaign.
Deez Nuts polled strongly in the run-up to the North Carolina presidential primary before eventually withdrawing and endorsing Bernie Sanders.
“Why did you have to kill him over ‘Deez Nuts?” Saleina McClain, Hill’s fiancee, asked Williams during sentencing. “It just can’t be that…”
Hill didn’t insult Williams, he simply complained to someone else about Williams’ use of Deez Nuts, the lead prosecutor in the case said.
The killer’s girlfriend’s 3-year-old child had picked up the phrase and Hill didn’t think it was appropriate; that complaint made Williams livid.
He drove around for hours before returning to the residence to kill Hill, officials said, “over a stupid phrase said by a young child.”
In court last week, Hill’s fiancée described the tragedy that unfolded with her son’s panicked call after Hill was killed in the July 2015 altercation.
The couple’s young son heard his father begging for his life: “No, my kids are here!” before being shot, Judge Anthony Aloi said in court.
The young boy then got to see his father one last time, fatally wounded, in a bedroom before the victim jumped out a window to his death.
At sentencing, Williams maintained his innocence, saying he was “unwittingly involved.” He blamed another man, Harry Shelton (above).
Authorities believed Shelton actually carried out the shooting. Williams’ lawyer, Dan Magill, said the verdict should be set aside as a result.
A key witness, Ryan Ernestine, gave inconsistent testimony and is a criminal currently facing a robbery charge, according to the attorney.
“This was a tragic loss of life,” Magill said. “But at the end of the day, it was Harry Shelton who caused that tragic loss of life.”
Aloi denied the request to overturn the verdict, noting he’d rendered the verdict himself; Williams waived his right to a jury trial.
Ultimately, the judge found the witness credible.
“Unfortunately, crimes are not committed in front of a bunch of choir boys,” Aloi said of the true, but inconsequential fact Ernestine was in jail himself.
Bizarrely, Shelton was initially charged with this same crime, but acquitted in a jury trial after blaming Williams for firing the fatal shot.
The owner of the firearm, Shelton was found guilty only of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, according to reports.
Prosecutors said it was Williams’ idea to kill Hill, whether he fired the fatal shot or not, and in the end, the judge at his bench trial concurred.
At his sentencing, Williams read a rambling prepared statement in which he blamed the system, his lawyer, the prosecutor and Shelton.
Calling the entire ordeal a miscarriage of justice, he alleged that he is a victim of bias, ineffective counsel and prosecutorial misconduct.