PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The man accused of killing 14-year-old Ryan Rogers in Palm Beach Gardens could have been sentenced to two decades in prison for a violent crime he committed in Atlanta.
However, Semmie Williams was released after only serving three years behind bars.
Police in Atlanta charged Williams with attacking a random senior citizen in February 2014, nearly strangling him to death.
Police charged Williams with aggravated assault strangulation and battery against a person 65 and older.
Similar to the attack of Rogers, the suspect left the victim in a ravine.
According to court records, Williams' victim testified about the Atlanta attack.
"He threw me down a ravine. … The intent was to kill me. ... He had his knee in my back, his hand above my neck, choking me," the victim said.
The victim also testified that he thought he was going to die. It was only good Samaritans passing by who stopped the attack.
"As an older person, it's very traumatizing. … You go through something like this, and you think every day, 'I'm not sure why I'm alive," the victim said.
The court files show Williams' mental state delayed the case from getting resolved. He apparently fled to San Diego at one point and was extradited back to Georgia.
Williams often sent rambling letters of paranoia to the judge in his case and was housed at two Georgia mental health facilities.
Read the full transcript of the 2018 hearing in Georgia:
In a letter to the court, Williams claimed correction officers targeted him because "of a new world order, to make everyone gay slaves."
At his sentencing in November 2018, prosecutors wanted to keep Williams in jail, calling his attack, "stranger on stranger, completely unprovoked."
They said even if Williams left the state, "it really is basically just exporting a potentially violent situation to another jurisdiction."
The maximum sentence for the crime, if Williams went to trial, was 21 years, according to a court document.
But Williams' attorney insisted prison was not the answer and the judge gave him first-offender status despite numerous violent misdemeanors.
Contact 5 obtained the sentencing transcript that shows the judge decided that Williams would be released from custody and given time served.
Williams was put on a Greyhound bus and sent to Florida because he had no prior felony convictions.