Relatives, prosecutors praise 65-year sentence in grocery store slaying

Updated: Jul. 6, 2017 at 6:15 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The man caught on camera shooting and killing an employee at a Montgomery grocery store in 2015 has been sentenced to more than six decades in prison. Reo Davis, 22, received 65 years for the murder of Kendre Williams.

The deadly shooting happened around noon on May 28, 2015, at the Cloverland Associated Grocers on South Court Street. The victim worked at the grocery store where Davis' girlfriend was also employed.

That day, Davis drove his girlfriend to the store to pick up her paycheck. He was waiting for her in the car.

Two stories emerge at that point, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.

The girlfriend says she told Davis to come inside the store and wait with her for her check because it was hot outside. Davis says she told him that Kendre Williams had called her several different offensive names.

Davis got out of his car and walked toward the front door of the store with his girlfriend and, as they approached the door, Williams and another man were walking out of the store.

Words were exchanged. Davis hit Williams in the face with one hand, then pulled out a gun with the other hand and shot Williams in the neck.

"It was some type of verbal altercation that we're unsure of," Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said. "The victim and the defendant came into contact in the parking lot. The defendant goes up to the victim, punches him, and then takes out his firearm, shooting him and killing him."

The deadly incident played out in a matter of seconds and it was captured on surveillance cameras positioned outside of the store. The victim's family asked that the footage not be used by the media.

Even though Kendre Williams was shot, he managed to run away towards the back of the business. Davis and his girlfriend got in the car and drove away.

Williams was taken to the hospital by a friend at the grocery store, but he died from his injuries.

Davis was later arrested and charged in the case.

He pleaded guilty to murder in April 2017 and last week, he was sentenced by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Johnny Hardwick to 65 years. The judge watched the surveillance video during the sentencing.

"This guy hopefully will die in prison. He'll never be released with that type of sentence. Now the community is a little safer since he is off the streets," Bailey said.

The District Attorney's Office hopes the punishment sends a message about the consequences of committing violent crimes.

"With the recent violence we've had since the middle of June, it is good that the public and even the bad guys see that there is some finality to the things that are happening and see what the end result is to you taking a gun and taking someone's life. The end result that your life is going to be taken away by putting you in prison for the rest of it," the district attorney said.

Bailey pointed out that Reo Davis was a high school dropout, leaving school in the 10th grade.

"That is a commonality in all of these violent offenders that we have seen. They're high school dropouts," he added. "If we can concentrate on working with our kids before they get into the criminal justice system, keep them in school and behaving and making good grades, then this violence will decrease."

The victim, Kendre Williams, was a graduate of Sidney Lanier High School and had plans to go to college. He was saving up for college by working at the grocery store.

"He enjoyed getting up every morning and going to work. He was excited when he came home from work," said his mother, Mary Williams. "When he didn't have to work, he was at home playing video games or playing basketball outside with his little brother. He was a really good kid. Everybody loved him. He always had a smile on his face."

"Our victim was a great young man, working hard, trying to save money for college. He was a high school graduate and had never been in trouble before. He was doing what many 18 and 19 year old's do, working and trying to make their lives better," District Attorney Bailey stated.

Mary Williams indicated that about a week before the murder, her son rejected Reo Davis' girlfriend and she was angry about that, leading to escalating emotions and tension that came to a head that day while her son was at work. Williams was pleased with the outcome of the case, thanking Judge Hardwick and the prosecutors who handled it.

"I feel like anyone who does senseless killing like this, that's what they need," she said. "They just need to stop and start thinking and throw those guns away and value life. Try to talk it out or just separate."

For the Williams' family, it's been a very difficult two years as they've tried to cope with Kendre's murder. He has two siblings and Mary Williams raised all three of her children as a single mother. She was extremely proud of Kendre and looked forward to him accomplishing his dreams.

"This violence and this killing hurts the families because every day, I deal with this. It's something that I have to go through every morning just so that I can get up to get myself together to go to work," she added. "I miss my baby. He stole my baby's life. He just robbed him of it."

Bailey said the entire case boiled down to a verbal argument.

"The defendant was upset because he believed that his girlfriend had been disrespected. Words led to this man's death. We have got to get to a place in our society and our community that words don't lead to violent actions as they did in this particular case," he said. "The message needs to be sent that if you commit this type of violence, that you're going to go to prison and you're going to go to prison for a very long time."

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