BAY CITY, MI – Over four years ago, a teenager choked and stabbed a Bay City man to death, then set his house on fire on Thanksgiving morning in hopes of covering up his crime.
Now of full age, the convicted killer has learned of his prison sentence.
And while his victim’s grieving brother expressed a desire for the young killer to be sexually assaulted in prison and desperate to end his life, the sentencing judge offered the defendant empathy. and words of encouragement.
Rodrick D. Williams appeared before Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran for sentencing on the morning of Tuesday, February 16.
In May 2018, a jury found Williams guilty of second degree murder, felony murder, building theft, armed robbery and carjacking in the death of Steven A. Bouza, 59, who was killed in inside his home at 205 18th St. on the night of November 22, 2016.
Williams was 16 at the time of the murder and 17 when the jury found him guilty. Williams turned 21 on January 17 and has been in custody since police arrested him on November 30, 2016.
Originally held at Bay County Juvenile Home, Williams was transferred to Bay County Jail on Jan. 18, 2017, making him the longest serving inmate currently at the facility, according to prison administrator Captain Troy A. Stewart.
The long delay between Williams’ conviction and impending sentence stems from his young age when he committed the murder.
In Michigan, a murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. However, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that such a sanction for convicted youths was unconstitutional. The country’s highest court in 2016 clarified that the ruling was retroactive, affecting current prisoners.
The prosecution and defense have agreed to postpone Williams’ conviction until they receive advice from the Michigan Supreme Court and the state legislature, both of which have promulgated laws and procedures. In the years since his conviction, Williams repeatedly waived his right to be sentenced within a year of his conviction. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further delayed Williams’ conviction.
Before sentencing, Sheeran allowed Williams to speak.
“I stay awake every night thinking about Mr. Bouza and how bad his family could feel,” Williams said. “I would like to say that I am sorry for the family of the victim for the horrible tragedy that took place. And also sorry for my family for putting them through this emotional wreckage too, because I know they had high expectations for me and I really, really tried to meet those expectations by going to school, coming out of the foster care system, and becoming a great role model for my siblings, but it’s hard when the odds are stacked against you.
He went on to say that he wanted to prepare for his own future and become a US Navy SEAL. He said he now plans to spend his time in jail to get a GED and take courses in business management.
“If I’m lucky enough to come home, I can start my own business and become a productive member of society,” Williams said.
Two brothers and sisters of Steven Bouza then took the floor. The first, brother Mike Bouza, praised his brother, praising his inherent kindness.
“One of his special characteristics was his generosity, his benevolent and caring heart, his sincere concern for others and all he could to help this person to cope with the difficulties that he was enduring,” he said. declared. “His calm demeanor gave you a sense of comfort when you were in his presence. He had a unique ability to recognize when someone needed a friend, young or old. He could sense when a person was feeling lonely and defeated. He offered hope, a shoulder to lean on and, many times, some kind of gift to help them. “
He described his brother’s murder as “an unprovoked, senseless, unnecessary, calculated, well thought out, cold-blooded, premeditated, outright murder”. He further stated that his attitude towards Williams was one of revenge.
“The living hell that awaits him in prison, he deserves it,” said Mike Bouza. “He has nothing to bring to society. “
Sister Laura L. Krueger also commemorated the generous and compassionate nature of her late brother.
“My brother Steve was simply the best person I have ever known,” she said. “I was blessed and honored to have it for my brother. He was someone I turned to often for help, advice or support, and he never let me down. He always took time for me and for everyone who needed him. I miss him terribly and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
Krueger asked the judge to hand down the maximum sentence allowed.
Defense lawyer Andrea J. LaBean asked the judge to consider Williams to be a minor when he committed the crime, while Demarckeon co-defendant Mr. “Marcus” Jackson was an adult. Jackson, 24, is currently incarcerated at Carson City Correctional Facility. Its first possible release date is November 30, 2051; its maximum release date is November 30, 2076.
“I think a good question would be, ‘But for the co-defendant, has this happened before? “I think the answer is no,” LaBean said.
Bay County District Attorney Nancy E. Borushko also called for Williams to receive the maximum sentence.
“I’m done talking about the accused,” she said. “Steven Bouza is the victim. Steven Bouza was a son, he was a brother, an uncle and he was a friend. Her mom can’t call her when she needs something. His siblings cannot share their joys and sorrows with their lives and there will be more inviting Steven for birthdays, holidays and weddings. The loss of Steven Bouza is really deep.
Judge Sheeran sentenced Williams to 35 to 60 years on the murder conviction, which was merged with the second degree murder conviction. He sentenced him to concurrent terms of 32 months to five years and two periods of 20 to 30 years.
Sheeran gave Williams credit for 1,538 days already spent in the county jail.
Before Williams left the courtroom, Sheeran condemned Williams’ crime.
“Human life is precious; that’s what makes the crime of murder so horrible, ”he said. “The victim in this case, from everything I heard, was a kind and generous person who went out of her way to help those in need. He was rewarded by being killed for no reason. This crime was particularly heinous because it was committed without any provocation, without any reason which made the slightest sense. “
Sheeran then said he wanted to disassociate himself from some of Mike Bouza’s comments, offering Williams compassion instead.
“You are not an animal, nothing like that,” he told Williams. “You shouldn’t be hurt while you’re in detention. You shouldn’t end your own life. Your life is precious. What you need to do is make the most of your life. You are young and you can still do something with your life. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to be nice to people and somehow try to make up for what you’ve been doing here.
“Don’t listen to those words about you being worthless,” he continued. “They are not real. I understand where they come from, from someone who has suffered indescribable loss.