TULSA, Okla. – A Miami man was sentenced Friday to over four years to be served in a federal prison for attacking a schoolmate and leaving him a paraplegic.
Jace Christian Williams, 23, was sentenced to 51 months and three years probation. A restitution hearing is set for Aug. 26, online records show.
Williams pleaded guilty in February in U.S. District Court to assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Indian Country in the 2017 assault on Owen Looper.
The victim’s mother read a victim impact statement during the hearing.
Even after the jury found Williams guilty, the victim only wanted him to serve 1575 days, the mother said reading her statement. That number represented how many days it took Williams to admit guilt and apologize, said the victim’s mother.
Prosecutors had argued for a ten-year federal prison sentence, which is an upward departure from the federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors stated that both the extreme nature of Williams’ criminal conduct and the victim’s resulting physical and mental suffering warranted the departure.
The victim’s mother continued, “I thought I’d be happy when the jury found you guilty, I can’t put into words how I felt, but happiness was not it.”
She also said Williams needed to be held accountable for his actions – “but for how long?”
Ultimately, the victim’s mother put Williams’s fate in the judge’s hands reading, “I do not envy you and the decision you have to make today on Jace’s sentence I just have to have faith God’s will be done with your judgment. Thank you.”
“Jace Williams’ intentional, violent attack has forever changed the life of the victim in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in a prepared statement. “His egregious actions are inexcusable. This type of criminal conduct cannot and will not be tolerated.”
John Dunn, Williams’s attorney, called his client “an All-American boy” and asked for leniency, including probation and community service, online records show.
The near-deadly assault centered on a rumor circulating indicating Williams was wanting to engage in a threesome sexual act with two women, the court document states.
Multiple witnesses saw Williams suddenly approach Looper from behind and wrapped his arms around Looper’s body, lifted him backward, and slammed him head-first onto the ground. Once the victim was on the ground, Williams proceeded to punch Looper in the back repeatedly and then spat on him, according to the statement released in February by Johnson.
Court documents filed before Friday’s sentencing hearing show Dunn referred to the altercation that left Looper with a C6-7 fracture and paralyzed as a “fight”.
A transcript shows a different story from witness Bryce Waybright.
Q. Bryce, Mr. Dunn asked you how long a fight lasted. Would you characterize for this jury what you saw happen to Owen as a fight?
A. Absolutely not.
Q. Okay. Explain what you mean when you say “absolutely not.”
A. Owen didn’t have a chance to fight back, to defend himself.
Q. And that’s why you wouldn’t call what you saw a fight?
A. An attack.
Q. I’m sorry. You said an attack?
A. An attack, more or less.
Q. So you’re saying an attack would be a more fair characterization of what you saw happen to Owen?
Emily Wagner’s testimony was in agreement.
Q. Counsel for defendant asked you whether a fight lasted very long. Did you see a fight out there?
A. No. I seen someone attack another person that didn’t have a chance to fight back.
Trial testimony showed in the days leading up to the crime, Williams told a student that he was going to make sure Looper could not “use his arms or legs for five months,” according to a statement.