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story.lead_photo.caption Troy James Williams - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

A 21-year-old Little Rock man who shot an off-duty Little Rock police officer during an armed holdup last year accepted a 35-year prison sentence Monday for aggravated robbery and attempted capital murder.

Troy James Williams will have to serve more than 24 years before he can qualify for parole.

Officer Shawn Bakr was shot in the shoulder in January 2016 when he disrupted an armed robbery attempt by three men while he was working off-duty security at the Red Lobster restaurant at Markham Street and Rodney Parham Road.

The three men entered the restaurant just before its 10 p.m. closing with hoodies pulled tight over their heads, obscuring their faces, police said. Bakr had been eating dinner in the bar next to the restaurant's foyer.

One robber held a gun to the manager's head, and the three robbers were taking the restaurant workers to the rear of the eatery to get to the safe when they saw Bakr, who was in uniform.

Bakr pulled his weapon, but Williams was the first to shoot, striking the officer in the shoulder, according to police testimony on Monday.

The wounded officer chased two of the men into the parking lot, shooting one of them in the buttocks.

Fellow officers had two of the suspects, Williams, and his younger brother, Joshua Lamont Williams, 18, in custody by the next morning.

Their cousin, Kenneth Lavell "Bam Bam" Nelson, was arrested two days after the shooting after a three-hour standoff with police that ended when officers used tear gas to get him to come out of his grandmother's home.

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Joshua Williams and Nelson are also charged with attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery, charges that carry a potential life sentence.

Joshua Williams was the first to be captured. He had been shot in the buttocks, and police found him at a home at 301 Cherokee Circle, about an eight-minute walk from Red Lobster, Detective Steve Moore testified.

Williams was hospitalized for his wounds, but police knew he had a brother, so they began looking for him. Officers also got a search warrant for the residence, Moore told the judge.

About 20 minutes after finishing the search, police were called back to the Cherokee Circle house by a neighbor, who reported a man had just hopped a fence in the back yard, the detective said.

When police returned to the residence, they found Troy Williams hiding in a shed behind the house, Moore testified.

Police reports show that the Williams brothers' father, also named Troy Williams, was killed at age 28 in February 2003, along with his brother, 23-year-old Phillip Williams, when they tried to rob an Asher Avenue gas station at gunpoint.

The station owner was able to take Troy Williams' pistol and shoot him with it while the owner's grandson chased down Phillip Williams, who had been armed with a rifle, and shot him.

On Monday, the younger Troy Williams pleaded guilty over the objection of his attorney, Jimmy Morris. Morris questioned whether Williams, who has been diagnosed with mild mental retardation, truly understood what he was doing.

Morris said he was obligated as Williams' lawyer to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, but he asked Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright not to accept Williams' guilty plea.

State doctors found Williams fit to proceed in July, diagnosing him with mild intellectual disability.

But Morris had just spent 90 minutes arguing that the confession Williams gave detectives the day after Bakr was shot should be barred from trial.

Detectives had not done enough to make sure Williams had the mental capacity to understand what he was doing when he waived his right to an attorney and answered their questions, Morris said.

Williams confessed to police, Morris said, and detectives told the judge he also directed them to where the gun he'd used had been buried in his grandmother's back yard.

The judge had not yet ruled on the admissibility of Williams' confession when the defendant said he wanted to accept the state's 35-year offer. Wright questioned Williams closely about his intention to plead guilty.

"Do you understand what your attorney is saying. He's worried about your ability to understand what's going on," Wright asked Williams. "This is what you want to do?"

"Yes, sir," Williams responded. He had to answer twice because he spoke so softly the judge couldn't hear him.

When asked whether he had shot Bakr, as deputy prosecutor Amanda Fields said he had, Williams was slow to respond in the affirmative.

"Mr. Williams, is what she said true?" the judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Williams responded.

"You paused there. Do you have a question?" the judge asked.

Williams said no, and Wright said he would accept the plea and impose the 35-year term.

Metro on 01/31/2017

Print Headline: He robbed LR eatery in 2016; Officer's shooter receives 35 years

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