1988 killer is seeking parole

Served 31 years of life sentence for murder over burnt shrimp meal

WARREN — The man who was accused of shooting and slashing a 24-year-old pregnant waitress to death in the fall of 1988 over a burnt shrimp dinner is appealing to the Ohio Parole Board for release after serving 31 years of his life sentence.

A parole hearing for Robert Williams, 61, who is housed in Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, is set for sometime in August before a three-person panel of the parole board.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, in a letter to the parole board, lists his reasons why he is opposing Williams’ parole.

“Since my first letter to the parole board (when Williams unsuccessfully sought release in the summer of 2015) , nothing has changed to change my opinion except for now having more reasons to keep him incarcerated … as a continuing and omnipresent danger to others,” Watkins wrote to parole board chair Trayce Thalheimer in a letter dated July 10.

Watkins cited that in addition to the family of victim Debra Blaine, members of Williams’ own family are opposing his release and fear him.

“If the facts in the case don’t make you sick, nothing will,” Watkins wrote.

On Nov. 7, 1988, Blaine, a mother of two and waitress at the Stone Gables Tavern in Southington, was in the restaurant with her only customer being Williams. The man first sexually and verbally abused her, Watkins states, at which time the woman hit him and broke his glasses. The man, having ordered a shrimp dinner, left the establishment and went home to get a .22 caliber revolver. After returning, he was served his shrimp dinner, but Williams complained to Blaine that it was burnt. An argument ensued, after which Watkins states that Williams shot the victim twice — in the back of the head and the back of her torso. As Blaine attempted to go for a telephone, Williams got a knife from the kitchen and slashed her throat. He then fondled her, Watkins stated, before stepping on her throat until she stopped breathing.

After a quick arrest, Williams was given a life sentence by then Common Pleas Judge Robert Nader. Then-assistant prosecutor Thomas Gysegem (now a municipal judge) had said about Williams that “this man is sick; he is dangerous and should never see the outside world again.

Watkins wrote that the opinion still stands today after he threatened a parole board officer after the inmate refused to meet the parole board in 2015. According to records, Williams disrespected and threatened the officer using derogatory terms and when confronted about the written threat, Williams acknowledged he did write it and meant to be disrespectful and threatening.

An call to the Ohio Public Defender’s office to respond to questions about Williams’ case for parole was not returned.



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