Jury Recommends Life In Fatal Hammer Attack

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man convicted of killing a Sudanese refugee with a hammer during a September 2009 robbery will likely avoid the death penalty.

A Duval County jury recommended Tuesday that 33-year-old Merlin Williams Jr. receive life in prison. He was convicted earlier this month of first-degree murder, robbery and car theft.

The judge told jurors he would likely follow their recommendation when he sentences Williams next month.

Prosecutors said Williams and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Ashley Nichole Jerrell, stole 37-year-old Isaac Siliman's credit cards, computer and car after attacking him with the hammer, a stun gun and pepper spray.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Jerrell pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against Williams.

Jerrell arranged with prosecutors to plead guilty to second-degree murder, armed robbery and auto theft in exchange for her testimony against Williams.

Siliman's family said he was a member of the Lost Boys of Sudan -- refugees who fled the civil war in their home country -- and had recently become a U.S. citizen.

Siliman had a wife and two children in Africa, one a baby boy he had never met. He was in the process of getting his family to America when he was killed.

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