San Jose

Convicted ‘Thrill Killer' to Be Released From Prison

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A South Bay judge says a convicted "thrill killer" must be set free due to a new law.

Back in 2009, a then 15-year-old Jae Williams and a friend brutally killed their classmate, Michael Russell, in San Jose. The reason? They wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone.

The boys were tried as adults, convicted and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

"This horrific crime that they committed was planned and premeditated," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "They began by torturing animals, rabbits and cats."

But in the years that followed, lawmakers passed SB 13-91, prohibiting 14 and 15 year olds from being tried as adults.

And since Williams was 15 on the day of the murder and tried as an adult, a judge on Tuesday ordered him released.

While a judge has ordered the now 27-year-old Williams freed, she stayed that order for a month to see if he can be placed on a monitoring system or be forced to stay in custody for several months to undergo intense therapy before release.

The new law and ruling angered the Russel family, who could be heard hissing sometimes in court on Tuesday.

"Our community is not going to be safe," said Cathy Russell, Michael's aunt. "A murderer is going to be getting back in there. They started killing animals first and moved to a human being."

In court, Williams' lawyer argued his client has already undergone therapy, counseling and has also earned a high school diploma.

Williams for now will be placed in a maximum security cell at the Santa Clara County Main Jail. Williams is set to return to court on Dec. 28, where he will find out when he will be set free and what conditions could come with it.

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