The mother of a Baker man shot dead by a heavily tattooed Greenwell Springs man says she has already forgiven her son’s killer because her son would have done the same thing if the circumstances were different.

An East Baton Rouge Parish jury Friday convicted William Bottoms Jr., 29, on two counts of second-degree murder and a judge sentenced Bottoms to two life terms. Bottoms shot Dedrick Dewayne Williams, 23, and Mohamed Sead Hussain, 29, to death June 1, 2017, as they rode in the back seat of a car along Plank Road between Baker and Zachary.

Bottoms, 29, showed no emotion when the verdicts were read in court. His mother was in the courtroom, as were Williams’ parents.

Cassandra Williams said outside the courtroom that justice was served, and she said she’d already forgiven Bottoms “because my son would have done the same thing.”

“He loved people,” she added. “If somebody needed help, he wanted to help them. He had nothing to give but love.”

While second-degree murder carries a mandatory life term, a period of time typically passes before sentencing. Bottoms, however, requested that ad hoc Judge Bruce Bennett sentence him immediately, and the retired judge obliged.

Bennett ordered the sentences to run consecutively, or one after the other, saying he didn’t want to “minimize the double loss of life.”

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III applauded the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for what he described as diligent investigative efforts and analysis.

“There are never any winners in homicide trials as victims and defendants families suffer substantial loss,” he said. “In the end justice was served by the jury’s guilty verdicts.”

Bottoms did not testify in his own defense. His attorney, Jarvis Antwine, called no witnesses.

Megan Gaylord, Bottoms’ girlfriend at the time of the slayings and once charged as an accessory, had testified Thursday for the prosecution that the killings occurred on Plank Road between Baker and Zachary sometime before 3 a.m. after she, Bottoms, Williams and Hussain purchased heroin.

She said Bottoms was sitting in the front passenger seat of a car she was driving when a paranoid Bottoms – without warning or provocation – shot Williams and Hussain as the two men sat in the back seat. The car was later abandoned in the rural community of Grangeville in northern St. Helena Parish with the bodies still in the back seat.

Bottoms later had his unsuspecting mother follow the car to the dump site and drive him and Gaylord back home.

Williams and Hussain were covered with a sheet that matched other sheets Bottoms owned.

“This is two of the most senseless murders I’ve ever seen,” prosecutor Dana Cummings told the jury of six women and six men in her closing argument Friday. “No warning. No reason. It just makes you sick.”

Williams was shot twice in the head, and Hussain was shot three times in the head, she reminded the jury.

Antwine pounded away at Gaylord during his closing argument, saying she has a pending, unrelated charge of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile in the 19th Judicial District Court, where Bottoms was tried. The cruelty charge carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

“That’s still hangin’ over her head,” he said to the jury. “Motive to testify. Motive to lie. They go hand-in-hand.”

Antwine, who had asked prospective jurors during the two-day jury selection process to not judge Bottoms on the basis of his heavily tattooed face, repeatedly mentioned those tattoos in his closing argument Friday.

Antwine said after spending time with Bottoms he concluded he’s a “good dude,” and he asked the jury not to “judge a book by its cover.”

Cummings was quick to seize on Antwine’s “good dude” remark in her rebuttal closing argument.

“He’s a good guy? He’s a good guy?” she asked rhetorically. “Does a good guy have his mother follow him to dump two bodies? Does a good guy get his girlfriend involved? Does a good guy shoot two innocent people?”

Gaylord had admitted she has battled with heroin.

“Does she have issues? Absolutely,” Cummings told the jury. “Who else would hang out with him?” she said, turning and pointing at Bottoms.

The jury deliberated for an hour before finding Bottoms guilty.

One of the final witnesses called to the stand Friday by Cummings was a DNA analyst who testified that the DNA of Bottoms and Gaylord was found on a holster recovered from the car in which the bodies were discovered.

The car belonged to Hussain, though Gaylord was driving. Crime scene photographs displayed to the jury earlier in the week showed the holster resting next to the front passenger seat near the door.

Bottoms' twin brother, Lawrence Bottoms, was shot to death in April in Mississippi after pulling a gun on Hancock County sheriff's deputies trying to serve a warrant on him out of East Baton Rouge Parish for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.