Two friends, some drinking and a gun — and another senseless killing.
Monday, during an emotional hearing, Christopher Bonds, 27, was sentenced to up to life at the Utah State Prison for the death of Byron “Cheese” Williams, who was 25 at the time of the Nov. 20, 2016, shooting.
During sentencing in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court, Judge Keith Kelly lamented that there was no reason for the tragedy. “One word that comes to mind here is ‘senseless,’ ” he said. “Just senseless.”
Williams died from a gunshot wound to the back.
In moving and tearful testimony, friends and family described Williams as a loving father and friend who held a central place in his extended family.
Lena Valdez, the mother of Williams’ children, told Bonds he had robbed her two young boys of a father.
“It’s sad that he was killed by someone who said he was his friend,” she said to Bonds. “My kids have to grow up without a dad. … There is nothing you can do to bring him back. And I hope you suffer.”
The judge sentenced Bonds to a term of 15 years to life for first-degree felony murder. Kelly also sentenced him to a consecutive term of one-to-15 years for possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Kelly meted out a third consecutive sentence of zero-to-five years for possession of a firearm by a restricted person, for which Bonds had been convicted in a separate instance but had not been sentenced.
Two third-degree felony counts of discharging a firearm, carrying a sentence of three-to-five years each, will run concurrently, the judge said. Two class A misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance will be dismissed for time served. Bonds has been in jail for over 365 days.
Restitution has yet to be determined.
According to testimony during a January jury trial, Williams and Bonds spent the day of the shooting together. After attending a soccer game, they went to Bonds’ apartment for drinks. The two men, along with others, then went to a bar in South Salt Lake.
There, Bonds got in a verbal altercation with a man, according to courtroom testimony. Bonds and Williams went back to Bonds’ apartment, where Bonds retrieved a 9mm handgun with the intention of returning to the bar to confront the man he had been arguing with.
Bonds and Williams ultimately got into an argument at the bottom of a staircase at Bonds’ West Valley City apartment building, at 1800 W. Parkway Blvd. (about 2600 South), according to testimony. Bonds told police that he and Williams were arguing and struggled over possession of the handgun. There were no other witnesses.
In the end, Williams ran and Bonds fired three shots at him, according to courtroom testimony. Williams suffered a gunshot wound to his arm and a fatal wound to his upper back.
Family member Tonya Caffey scolded Bonds for Williams’ death.
“In my opinion, you are nothing but a piece of garbage. You are a heartless person with a dark soul,” she said. “I hope you remember the name Byron Williams the rest of your life, because you are going to have to answer to someone higher.”
Bonds apologized to Williams’ friends and family in the courtroom.
“I’m sorry for what happened. I deserve [the prison] sentence I got. I’m sorry,” he said. “I have nightmares every night. I hope you can forgive me one day.”