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'We'll get through this:' Family of victim in cold case appears at suspect's plea hearing

Ralph Williams, 60, rejects plea deal, seeks to hire lawyer
Carla Lowe in 1983
Posted at 1:32 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 21:07:26-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A murder suspect accused of killing a Delray Beach woman in 1983 rejected a plea deal during his hearing Monday morning.

Ralph Williams, 60, rejected the plea deal presented to him by the state. He told the judge he would like to hire his own attorney, citing dissatisfaction with his legal defense team.

Ralph Williams in court as he rejects plea deal, Nov. 14, 2022
Ralph Williams appears in court as he rejects a plea offer, Nov. 14, 2022, at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Williams is accused of beating Carla Lowe, 21, to death while she was waiting for an Amtrak train. An investigation began but there wasn't initially enough evidence to move forward. That changed in 2021 when Delray Beach police created a cold case unit.

Witnesses were interviewed and, with new technology, police were able to obtain fingerprints from a piece of evidence that was left at the scene. That led to the arrest of Williams nearly one year ago.

Family of Carla Lowe walks out of court holding hands, Nov. 14, 2022
The family of Carla Lowe hold hands as they leave the Palm Beach County Courthouse after attending a plea hearing for Ralph Williams, Nov. 14, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The Lowe family went into the courtroom Monday expecting the man accused of killing their loved one to take a plea deal.

Danny Cogdill, Lowe's nephew, has mixed emotions with Williams not taking the plea deal. He remains in search of closure.

"There's the part of you that wants this to be over so that you can process it, deal with it and be done with it," Cogdill said. "Then there's also part of you that was not completely satisfied with the plea deal but will take it, because that's better than nothing."

The family is optimistic and said they are looking forward to the trial.

"As a family, we'll get through this," Jackie Lowe-Repass, Lowe's sister, said. "If we go to trial and he's found guilty, which I'm pretty sure he will be, it's mandatory life in prison."

Jackie Lowe-Repass, sister of Carla Lowe
Jackie Lowe-Repass tells WPTV outside the Palm Beach County Courthouse that she and her family will get through this trying time after her sister's accused killer rejected a plea deal, Nov. 12, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Williams has a week to hire a lawyer at his own expense.

The case is expected to go to trial in April 2023.

"For 39 years we've had hope, so we can have hope for one more year to see how this works out," Cogdill said.