The fatal stabbing of 55-year-old Mikel Anthony Williams struck a chord at Irvine Valley College in 2012. After a rough life–Williams' mother and brother were murdered before him–he seemed to have turned his life around after getting a college education at IVC, moving into housing nearby and trading bus rides for his own car.
On Wednesday, his killer was convicted of first-degree murder and now faces 76 years to life in prison at a scheduled May 23 sentencing hearing in Santa Ana.
Anaheim Police received an anonymous call shortly after midnight on Aug. 30, 2012, about a possible burglary in progress in the 800 block of North Zeyn Street, which is near Anaheim Boulevard. Officers arrived to find Williams' body in the east alley. He had been stabbed multiple times, but there were no signs of a burglary.
Cops had already encountered Williams earlier that same night, still very much alive, in the driver's seat of his car with passenger Joseph Robert Suess, 39. An Anaheim resident had also seen them together in the car, as had a surveillance camera.
Investigators later determined Suess fatally stabbed Williams after an argument over the driver's refusal to take the killer somewhere he wanted to go. At some point, Heriberto Erick Vergara Calvillo, 27, showed up and helped beat Williams, according to Anaheim Police. Calvillo is also charged with murder but will be tried separately.
At trial, attorney Kenneth Norelli of the Alternate Defender's Office insisted "Joseph Suess is not guilty of this murder," City News Service reports. He tried to downplay video surveillance footage and witness statements, and played up methamphetamine having been found at the crime scene and in Williams' blood.
Norelli tried to a paint a picture of Williams being "high on meth," "angry" and "agitated," "wielding a bat" and "trying to get into a woman's apartment" before he was put down.
Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin countered Suess and [it is alleged] Calvillo slugged Williams before he was stabbed, that Suess was identified by a neighbor in a photo lineup and that when arrested Suess was wearing sneakers with reflectors on them that a witness had described seeing on the killer.
Those sneakers had spots of blood on them, Yellin added, and Williams' DNA was on Suess' clothing.
"He's the one seen hitting Mikel Williams and ran away, he's the one with Mikel Williams' DNA on his shorts," Yellin said of Suess at trial. "Joseph Suess is the murderer of Mikel Williams."