By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 29 2003 12:00 AM ET
No drugs other than caffeine were found in the blood of a man who committed suicide while awaiting trial on charges that he murdered a gay couple, a newspaper reported Saturday. A coroner's verdict released Tuesday concluded that Benjamin Matthew Williams, 34, killed himself in his Shasta County, Calif., jail cell last November by slashing himself at least 75 times with a razor blade. The decision allowed the release of autopsy and toxicology reports that had been completed months ago, the Redding, Calif., Record Searchlight said. Williams and his brother, James Tyler Williams, 33, were accused of killing Winfield Mowder, 40, and Gary Matson, 50, in their Happy Valley home in 1999. Both brothers said they were carrying out God's orders to kill homosexuals. After his brother's death, James Williams pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison.
Drugs became an issue in Benjamin Williams's death when one of his attorneys, Russell Schwartz, said in February that his client was to have been weaned off an antidepressant medication in preparation for a series of pretrial tests the court had approved. Instead, Schwartz said, the jailers abruptly stopped administering the medication, an antiseizure drug used to fight panic attacks.
In another case, the brothers pleaded guilty in 2001 to setting fires at three Sacramento synagogues and an abortion clinic and were given long prison sentences. Benjamin Williams was also convicted last year of attacking a jail guard.