Woman in prison for 10 years who got new trial pleads guilty to lesser charge for part in killing

There will be no further litigation for a woman who was granted a new trial for her part in a 2013 homicide after she admitted guilt, pleading to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Misty Dawn Williams, now 29, was sentenced to 18 years to life in June 2013 after pleading guilty to murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in Butler County Common Pleas Court in the Nov. 24, 2012, shooting death of Julian Slaven at his home.

Williams was one of five charged in the plot to rob Slaven of marijuana and money. The incident turned violent when Slaven was shot and killed by one of the co-conspirators. Prosecutors say Williams was complicit in the course of criminal conduct that resulted in Slaven’s death.

The case was heard by the late Judge Patricia Oney. While standard appeals were exhausted, a team of attorneys filed a motion in 2021 to permit her to withdraw her guilty plea based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The case was assigned to Judge Keith Spaeth.

Attorneys for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center Beyond Guilt project were looking at Williams’ case as part of a quest to free prisoners who had admitted guilt, had served a significant sentence and can demonstrate rehabilitation.

Williams, a Fairfield High School graduate and former cheerleader, was drug-addicted at the time of the crime.

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

While looking at the case, they got little cooperation from Williams’ attorney at the time of conviction, Ched Peck, according to court documents filed by attorney David Singleton of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center.

Singleton said Peck did not release Williams’ file to them, even after several tries and a waiver from Williams.

To support the motion to withdraw the plea, Singleton said Peck advised his client to plead guilty to all charges to avoid the death penalty, a punishment Williams did not face because the indictment lacked the death specification.

He also cited Peck’s failure to seek suppression of her confession due to a violation of her remaining silent.

In an affidavit, Williams said: “two days before my trial Mr. Peck told me because the case was so high profile, and the State was saying I was the mastermind, I would face the death penalty if I went to trial. Until that point, I had planned on going to trial even though I knew it would be difficult for me to be acquitted of all charges. Still, I hoped I might beat the murder charge because I was not the one who pulled the trigger.”

Spaeth granted Williams’ motion to withdraw her plea, setting the stage for a new trial. A pretrial hearing was set for Friday.

At Friday’s hearing, Williams pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification. She has already served the 10 year sentence (in 2013) for the manslaughter, but will returned to prison to serve the remainder of the years for using a gun in the commission of the crime.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the decision to permit a defendant to withdraw a plea is one for a judge to make, but the prosecutor’s office did not appeal the decision.

Gmoser said he agreed to Williams’ reduced plea because “she had to go in prison for 10 years knowing that she was deprived of the opportunity for a fair trial because of misinformation that she was given by her attorney and also her testimony was instrumental of others involved and she got nothing for that. She did cooperate and admit her involvement.”

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