After Caren Jones’ son Ezekiel Williams was arraigned Friday in connection with the drive-by shooting death of 15-year-old Christopher Privett, she remembered how the young man she calls “Zeke” was fighting for his life four years ago.
At the direction of physicians at Sunrise Hospital, she said, she stood near the hospital bed of her son, a severe asthmatic, and talked to him for two days as he lay unconscious.
Tubes, she said, seemed jammed into her son everywhere. The air he managed to take in came from an oxygen mask.
“They told me they didn’t think he could make it, but maybe my voice could help bring him back,” she said, weeping.
It was the second time in 14 years that Williams’ asthma almost cost him his life.
“I can’t believe God brought him back to me and now I might lose him like this,” said Jones, 43, sobbing.
Besides driving the car used in the shooting near Palo Verde High School, Williams handed the murder weapon to 16-year-old Gerald Q. Davison and then egged him on before the shots were fired, according to Williams’ arrest report.
Davison is charged with murder and attempted murder — three other youths were walking home from school with Privett. Williams is charged with accessory to murder and three counts of accessory to attempted murder.
Jones, who has hired attorney Brent Bryson to represent her son, realizes that her firstborn could spend a huge part of his adult life in prison if he is convicted on the felony charges.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” she said, drying her eyes with a tissue as she sat in Bryson’s office Thursday. “It just doesn’t seem real. I just can’t imagine what the family is going through that lost their child. This just doesn’t sound like my son to be part of something like that.
“When he was born, it was the happiest day of my life. When he was arrested, it was the saddest.”
Court records do not show Williams with a prior criminal history. A graduate of Cimarron-Memorial High School in 2007, he was a “C” student, said his mother, who oversees security at the Review-Journal.
“I got after him, but often he didn’t turn his work in on time,” she said.
Though Jones said she has met many of her son’s friends, she never met Davison, who attended Cimarron-Memorial before transferring to Palo Verde this year.
“My son never even mentioned him,” she said.
After Williams’ arrest, his 12-year-old sister collapsed on the floor crying.
“I got down on the floor and cried with her,” Jones said. “I feel like crying all the time, but I have to be strong for my daughter. Now I really only cry in the shower when she goes to bed.”
She said that in her son’s telephone conversations from jail, he always asks how she is doing.
Jones helped her son obtain contract maintenance jobs at the Review-Journal during the summers of 2005, 2006 and 2007. But he has been unable to find a full-time job since high school graduation, his mother said.
She said that for graduation she bought him the 2000 Pontiac Grand Am that police say Williams and Davison were in when Privett was shot.
Williams drove his sister to and from school and did odd jobs around the house, Jones said.
She said she was divorced from Williams’ dad when he was 5. While Williams has lived with her, his father, Ezekiel Williams Jr., has played a role in his life, Jones said.
Williams’ father, whom Jones describes as a business executive, was unavailable for comment.
“I didn’t think the divorce affected him,” Jones said of her son. “I thought I did a good job raising him.”
Jones said she’ll never forget how she felt when police first came to her door and identified themselves as homicide detectives.
“I thought Zeke was killed,” she said. “I went totally numb until they told me he was all right. I don’t know how the family of the boy who got killed is dealing with this. I honestly have no idea.”
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at email@example.com or (702) 387-2908.