Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – A teenager who has been accused of killing an elderly man with one punch outside of an Elmwood 7-Eleven store faces a first-degree manslaughter charge.
Romeo Williams faces a total of three counts. Along with the first degree manslaughter charge, he was charged with second degree manslaughter and assault in the second degree.
Police say Romeo Williams, 18, of Solvay, jumped out of a car with friends and punched James Gifford in the head, causing him to fall down in the parking lot outside the store.
According to police, Williams then went into the store and celebrated before returning to Gifford and kicking him.
The Onondaga County Medical Examiner said that the initial punch led to Gifford’s death.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said that the cause of Gifford’s death was similar to shaken baby syndrome or severe whiplash.
The incident happened on Sept. 21.
On Oct. 11, Fitzpatrick said told NewsChannel 9 that, “There has never been any chance that Mr. Williams would be charged with murder under the facts of this case.”
Fitzpatrick said on Monday that he consulted with District Attorneys throughout New York State and they agreed the evidence does not support a murder charge.
Nevertheless, Williams could face a lengthy prison term if he receives the maximum sentence.
Williams has a lengthy criminal record, including three felony charges.
When he was arrested for the attack on Gifford, he was out on bail following an August gun arrest.
The gun charge could yield a sentence of 15 years, while the maximum sentence for murder in the first degree is 25 years.
Running consecutively, he could spend 40 years in prison.