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Press Release

Dayton-area drug dealer charged with murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
Case is first federal murder case charged in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury has charged Joshua Cordell Lee Williams, 19, of Xenia, Ohio, with murder in relation to firearms and drugs charges stemming from a January 2020 homicide in Wilmington in an indictment returned here today.


Specifically, Williams is charged with firearms-related murder and possessing with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.


According to court documents, on Jan. 21, 2020, Williams met with four individuals in Wilmington to sell them marijuana. The individuals had intended to meet Williams and take the marijuana without paying.


A struggle ensued between the individuals and Williams, who was armed with a firearm during the transaction. Williams fired the weapon, shooting the victim, Layne Hall, in the chest and fatally injuring him.


“Far too often, the combination of drug transactions and firearms results in death. As alleged, this case involves a fatal shooting over a few pounds of marijuana,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. “This case – the first ever federal murder case in Cincinnati – highlights this office’s emphasis on combatting violent crime.” 


“This office, in partnership with Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' office, has initiated a multipronged attack on violent crime. We are concentrating on long-term historical investigations into violent organized crime and at the same time devoting resources to current, ongoing crimes perpetrated by the most violent in our community. Expect more to come.”


If convicted, Williams faces up to life in prison.


“The violence associated with the illegal drug trade is a scourge on our communities,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman. “When law enforcement agencies partner together in a task force environment, as in this case, we can better attack these issues and remove dangerous criminals from the streets.”


Williams was ordered to remain in custody pending trial.


David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Wilmington Police Chief Ron Cravens, Xenia Police Chief Donald R. Person, the Greater Warren County Drug Task Force and Clinton County Prosecutor Richard W. Moyer announced the charges. OCDETF Chief Christy L. Muncy and Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Oakley are representing the United States in this case.


An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.


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Updated July 28, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime