MANATEE -- A Snead Island resident was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his lifelong friend.
George C. Williamson Jr., 71, was found guilty Feb. 6 of manslaughter with a firearm in the death of Willie Lee Jones.
Jones, 65, was shot multiple times and multiple firearms were found in Williamson's home. No motive was identified.
Jones was found dead when deputies arrived Jan. 24, 2014, at Williamson's home in the 5000 block of 13th Street West on Snead Island.
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"The evidence clearly shows a history of violence and drunkenness and mixing of the two; a bad combination," said Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci before making her ruling. "Unfortunately for Mr. Jones, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with a ticking time bomb, Mr. Williamson."
During the sentencing hearing, Jones' daughter, Angela Simpson, directed most of her testimony to Williamson.
"My dad was your friend. He was no stranger. I don't know what happened, but he was your friend," she said through sobs.
Williamson Jr.'s brother, Michael Williamson, testified recounting decades of what he described as his brother's violent, unpredictable personality, including a time he tried to kill his wife.
"The most disturbing of the scenarios he told me a few days before he killed Willie Lee Jones," Michael Williamson said. "He told me he would be able to kill a man and get away with it."
His brother gave him three reasons why he would not be caught: He would make sure there was no ballistic evidence, he would make sure the man was dead so he couldn't tell his side of the story and he would tell law enforcement he couldn't remember anything so they couldn't say he was lying.
"I believe he will always be a threat to the community," Michael Williamson said.
Another family member testified to various violent episodes witnessed over the years and how he was known to walk around the family property on Snead Island with a firearm, often drunk.
Several of Williamson's friends spoke on his behalf.
Jones, who worked with Williamson for the city of Palmetto, was also well known from his days as a Palmetto football star.
A linebacker, defensive end and fullback at Lincoln Memorial High School in Palmetto, he went on to play football at the University of Tampa and was later drafted by the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, but could not reach a financial agreement, said Bradenton's Ed Dick, who helped recruit Jones to the University of Tampa.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.