Nautica Williams still doesn't understand why her father died on March 25, 2017, shot after an argument at the auto-repair shop where he worked. She doesn't understand why he was taken away two months before her high school graduation.
She doesn't understand why her father didn't get to see his other daughter graduate or get to meet his grandchildren. In Forsyth Superior Court on Wednesday, she stood beside Assistant District Attorney Elisabeth Dresel and looked across the courtroom at the man who pleaded guilty to killing her father, 77-year-old Henry Gilbert Stewart.
"You done lived your life," she said. "He didn't get to live his."
Stewart of Crosland Hill Drive pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 35-year-old Henry Devon Williams.
Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Stewart to a minimum of six years and a maximum of eight years and three months in prison. He will get credit for the three years and five months he spent at the Forsyth County Jail awaiting trial.
Winston-Salem police officers responded to a 911 call at 7 p.m. March 25, 2017. They found Williams with a gunshot wound to the chest at the Citgo gas station on Old Lexington Road. Williams had walked from Angel's Body Shop, where he worked, to the gas station after he was shot and collapsed in the parking lot. Paramedics took him to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he later died. An autopsy report said a bullet went through Williams' chest and pierced his aorta and right lung.
Dresel said earlier that evening, Stewart had pulled into the parking lot of the auto body shop in one car, followed by another car with several people, including a man named Robert Joe. Robert Joe had been living with Stewart. Williams and Joe started arguing over money Joe apparently owed to Williams. Stewart joined the altercation, Dresel said.
During the argument, Williams displayed a .22-caliber pistol but put it away after he calmed down. That whole exchange was captured by surveillance video. After the argument died down, everyone, including Williams and Stewart, moved out of view of the surveillance camera. According to witnesses, everyone talked and had beers.
Erica Spatcher, who was among the group, told Winston-Salem police that suddenly, Stewart pulled out a gun and shot Williams. William Soukup, Stewart's attorney, said Stewart was afraid Williams was going to shoot him.
The prosecution had challenges, Dresel said. Spatcher, who was the only witness who said she saw the shooting, moved out of Forsyth County and has refused to cooperate with prosecutors. And if the case had gone to trial, there was a chance that Soukup would have argued some form of imperfect self-defense, Dresel said.
And the surveillance footage does not capture the shooting, she said.
Investigators did talk to Stewart's estranged wife, who said that Stewart had shown signs of dementia and had pulled a gun on her and threatened to kill her, Dresel said. He was on probation for that offense at the time of Williams' shooting.
Soukup said Kristine Herfkens, a psychologist, evaluated Stewart and found that he had neurocognitive disorders that could have resulted in erratic and impulsive behaviors. Family members had noticed a decline in Stewart's mental faculties.
Gilbert Maurice Stewart, son of Henry Stewart, said his father was a military veteran who fought in the Vietnam War and proved to be a role model for him and his brother. He said the family apologizes to Williams' family for what happened to Henry Williams.
Nautica Williams said if there was a problem between Stewart and her father, they could have worked it out. He didn't have to die, she said.
"There's no amount of money in the world that would put a price on somebody's life," she said.