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Public defender seeks gag order for Ryan Rogers' accused killer

Attorney also wants evidence sealed until after Semmie Williams Jr.'s trial concludes
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 18:12:28-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The public defender's office wants law enforcement and pundits to stop talking about the man accused of killing Palm Beach Gardens teen Ryan Rogers.  

Attorneys also wants to keep evidence, called discovery, sealed until after the trial concludes.  

New court filings show the public defender representing Semmie Williams Jr. is concerned about the homeless drifter's right to a fair trial.  

Semmie Williams Jr. cut on head after scuffle with deputies
This photograph shows a cut to Semmie Williams Jr.'s head after a scuffle with deputies at the main Palm Beach County jail.

Williams' attorney is asking for all discoveries to be sealed, arguing that it's necessary to preserve Williams' fundamental right to a fair trial.  

The public defender cites the media attention and national reporting on the story, including comments made by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Clint Shannon, who labeled Williams as "a dangerous monster" and "an animal who probably shouldn't be out on our streets."  

The public defender is also troubled about Williams' constitutional right to a fair trial after the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office released incident and disciplinary reports to Contact 5.

According to those documents, Williams told a corrections deputy while being booked earlier this month on a first-degree murder charge, "Yeah, I killed that (expletive)."  

He later denied making those comments, according to the documents.  

Ryan Rogers
Ryan Rogers, 14, was found dead in Palm Beach Gardens.

WPTV also reported first about Williams' past criminal history in Atlanta, where he pleaded guilty to assaulting an elderly man.

Contact 5 spoke to the victim who said he has never fully recovered from the injuries.

Contact 5 asked criminal defense attorney Greg Morse, who's not related to the case, why the public defender would make this request.

"It seems like from the motion that in the initial stages from the arrest or manhunt before the indictment, there were some statements made by law enforcement that were disparaging and somewhat inappropriate," Morse said.

The attorney said Williams' statement to the deputy can be perceived as a confession and was inappropriate to be disclosed by law enforcement.

"So, the defense is trying to stop that from happening again," Morse said.  
The court docket shows a hearing is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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