TULSA, Okla. — A 23–year-old Miami, Okla. man was sentenced to federal prison Friday for a 2017 attack that left the victim paralyzed from the neck down.
In February this year a federal jury found Jace C. Williams, of Miami, Okla. guilty of maiming in Indian Country and assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Indian Country.
In a surprise attack, Williams approached the victim from behind, then used a maneuver similar to what is commonly referred to as a “suplex”, Williams wrapped his arms around the victim’s body, lifted him backward and slammed him head-first onto the ground. While the victim was on his stomach on the ground, Williams proceeded to spat on the victim and repeatedly punch him in the back.
The victim was rushed to a Joplin, Mo. hospital suffering a C6-7 fracture-subluxation with bilateral locked facets and paralysis. As a result of the injuries inflicted by Williams, the victim is a quadriplegic.
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U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Williams to 51 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Frizzell will determine restitution at an Aug. 26 hearing.
Prosecutors had argued for a ten year federal prison sentence, which is an upward departure from the federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors stated that both the extreme nature of Williams’ criminal conduct and the victim’s resulting physical and mental suffering warranted the departure.
“Jace Williams’ intentional, violent attack has forever changed the life of the victim in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “His egregious actions are inexcusable. This type of criminal conduct cannot and will not be tolerated.”
“In a cowardly attack, Mr. Williams blindsided and paralyzed a fellow student, then remorselessly bragged about his crime,” said FBI Oklahoma City Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray. “We hope that today’s sentence serves as a warning for other individuals who think they can harm their fellow citizens without facing any repercussions.”
The victim and defendant attended the same technical school in Afton and knew one another prior to the incident. In the days leading up to the crime, Williams repeatedly expressed anger toward the victim because he felt the victim had interfered and ruined Williams’ chances of having a sexual encounter with two women. Williams went as far as to tell one student that he would to make sure the victim couldn’t “use his arms or legs for five months.”
On Nov. 3, 2017, a classmate drove Williams and two friends to E. 200 Rd in Afton, in order to watch an unrelated fight between two different men. After arriving, the driver remained in his truck, scrolling through his phone. Other students, including the victim, also drove to the location in order to watch the fight.
While the victim and other students assembled in a circle waiting for the fight to begin, multiple witnesses from different vantage points saw Williams suddenly attack the victim from behind.
Williams’ two friends then returned to the truck and told the driver Williams had jumped the victim and that it was bad. Soon after, Williams returned to the truck, breathing heavily, and demanded the driver take him home. The driver testified that Williams ripped off his own shirt and bragged that what he had done to the victim was “fun” and that he wanted to do it again. The driver said he feared the defendant at that point and complied.
In 2021 charges were dropped since the crime occurred within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation reservation. Federal charges were immediately filed. The FBI and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard M. Cella and Brandon A. Skates prosecuted the case.
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