A man who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor over a gambling debt 40 years ago will soon be released on parole. The Iowa Board of Parole issued the decision today for Rasberry Williams, who’s now 68. Once released, he’ll be placed in an assisted living facility.
The parole board’s discussion included what preparations would be made to allow Williams to transition to life outside of prison. Williams was asked if he’d like arrangements to be made for him to travel outside the prison facility’s fence with his counselor for him to “introduce” Williams to “changes” he hasn’t seen before. Williams responded, “It would be lovely. I’d like to do that.” Williams spoke to parole board members in Des Moines via video from the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City.
Williams has maintained he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed another man outside a Waterloo pool hall in 1974. Williams’ daughter, Charletta Suddoth, was just 8-years-old when her father turned himself in to authorities after the shooting. “On the drive up here, we were recanting in the car, when he (entered prison), the style of the day was Afros and stacks for shoes. Now, now we all have technology at our fingertips…he has a beautiful, wonderful sense of humor after all these years,” Suddoth said.
Governor Branstad commuted Williams’ life sentence last year, saying his record in prison “has been extraordinary.” In addition to mentoring other inmates, prison officials said Williams saved the lives of two guards during a hostage situation in 1979.