The opinion published Tuesday denies the appeal of Michael Eugene Williams,
whose attorneys argued that sentencing an “emotionally immature 20-year-old
adolescent” to life in prison without parole was “cruel and unusual
punishment.” The justices unanimously denied the argument, stating that outside
of death penalty cases, there is no constitutional requirement for appropriate
They added that although the U.S. Supreme Court holds that juvenile offenders
cannot be sentenced to life in prison for nonhomicide crimes, his age and the
crime make him ineligible for that argument.
According to evidence at the trial, Williams and co-defendant Susan Inglett
walked into the restaurant, across from the Tubman South Augusta YMCA on May
30, 2009, around closing time. Inglett put a dollar on the counter for a cup of
tea while Williams went into the bathroom and put on a mask, black skull cap
and green bandana.
When Williams came out of the bathroom and pointed a gun at Cheung, the
shopkeeper gave a “loud yell,” which the defense argued startled Williams into
firing the gun. Cheung was killed instantly. Williams pleaded guilty in January
2011 and received life in prison without parole.
Inglett pleaded guilty in March 2011 to involuntary manslaughter and received
25 years in prison. A third co-defendant, Nicholson Williams, pleaded guilty in
March 2011 to voluntary manslaughter and received 20 years in prison.
Cheung’s wife, Ming Ming Cheung, welcomed the news Tuesday. At the sentencing,
Cheung said, she pleaded with the judge to put the defendants away for a long
“They not only took away my husband, but turned my whole life upside down,” she
(source: Augusta Chronicle)