Attorneys for James Tyler Williams, who is facing murder charges in Shasta County, Calif., have asked a judge for a gag order to prevent law enforcement from talking about the upcoming trial or the suicide of Williams's brother and former codefendant. Tyler, 32, and his brother, Benjamin Matthew Williams, 34, were charged in the 1999 shooting death of a gay couple in Happy Valley. The older brother was found dead Sunday in his jail cell. Media coverage of his brother's suicide would "greatly diminish" Tyler Williams's chance for a fair trial in Shasta County, his attorneys said in court filings.
Williams's attorneys were already seeking to have their client's trial moved to another county because of the publicity surrounding Benjamin Williams's trial and conviction last month of attempted murder of a county jail correctional officer. Benjamin Williams apparently bled to death early Sunday morning after slashing his arms, thighs, and neck with the blade from a contraband disposable razor. The brothers also were sentenced to federal prison terms--21 years, three months for Tyler; 30 years for Benjamin--in the 1999 firebombings of three Sacramento synagogues and a building housing an abortion clinic.