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Murder charge taken to first degree

Screams of the victim are captured on her cell phone.

By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN, Times Staff Writer
Published December 8, 2007

Ronald E. Williams, 42, is accused of stabbing his wife to death.

ST. PETERSBURG - A voice mail that captured the screams of a stabbing victim and her 2-year-old daughter played a role in the decision of authorities to upgrade a murder charge.

Ronald Williams, 42, was arrested in September on a charge of second-degree murder, accused of stabbing his wife Mariama at their home at 3921 Ninth Ave. S. Police say he initially told them that he had killed her in the heat of the moment after an argument.

But several days after the murder, Mariama's sister found a voice mail on her sister's cell phone. Mariama had been talking to her husband as he approached her, and her phone switched to voice mail as he came toward her. The recording picked up the sounds of the stabbing.

In the voice mail, which is jumbled and garbled, Mariama can be heard yelling "I'm sorry!" At one point, it sounds as if her daughter yelled "Daddy!" though the sound is unclear.

The voice mail, along with autopsy results that showed Mariama had been stabbed 27 times, both factored into the decision of authorities to upgrade the charge against Ronald Williams from second-degree murder to first-degree murder, police said.

"In his admission, he Ronald Williams indicated it was a heat-of-the-moment attack," said police spokesman Bill Proffitt. "I think the recording the audio recording discounts that story and elevates it to more than a heat of the moment account."

Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

[Last modified December 8, 2007, 00:14:40]

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