Minutes after being found guilty Thursday of killing and robbing 81-year-old Jack Koch in 2007, Kenneth Williams professed his innocence to the elderly man's children.
"I never went there to murder your father," Williams said before being sentenced to 30 years in prison. "How (the jury) found me guilty of murdering your father, I don't know. I'm not a murderer. My momma didn't raise a murderer."
After deliberating Wednesday and Thursday for a total of nearly nine hours, a Beaufort County jury convicted the 45-year-old Williams of murder, burglary and robbery for breaking into Koch's home on 16th Street in Port Royal on Sept. 8, 2007. Williams, of Port Royal, beat Koch, triggering a fatal heart attack, and stole the man's wallet.
Koch's children, who attended the three-day trial at the Beaufort County Courthouse this week, declined to comment.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper sentenced Williams to 30 years, despite a recommendation from Deputy Solicitor Angela McCall-Tanner that he receive life in prison without parole because of a criminal history stretching 25 years.
Williams previously has been convicted of more than 10 crimes, including grand larceny, domestic violence and receiving stolen goods, according to court records.
"If sentencing Mr. Williams to life in prison without parole would replace Mr. Koch, I would do it," Cooper said. "A life has been lost, and there is nothing this court can do to change that. ... Mr. Koch is gone. Mr. Williams is now 45, and he will be 75 years old before he ever sees the light of a free day again."
In his remarks to Koch's children, Williams claimed 41-year-old Timothy Clint Skinner attacked Koch. Skinner, also charged with murder, went with Williams, Jenny Lynn Chase and Lisa Schoenemann to Koch's home to get money to buy drugs and alcohol, authorities have said.
"The only thing I regret is when I pulled (Skinner) off your father, I didn't pick up that phone and call for help," Williams said. "It didn't look as bad as it was. I'm sorry, and I'm ready to face the consequences for that."
Neither Skinner nor Williams testified during the trial.
Williams' attorney, 14th Circuit Chief Public Defender Gene Hood, said that what really happened that night may never be known.
"We've heard all the facts of this case, and it's a 'hand of one is the hand of all' type of situation, and we're still not sure which hand is responsible for this," Hood said.
During her closing remarks, McCall-Tanner dismissed the notion Skinner was the assailant.
"No evidence puts Timothy Skinner inside Jack Koch's house," the deputy solicitor said. "Kenneth Williams picked out the victim and says, 'I know where we can get some money.' "
Because Skinner and Williams were together when Koch was killed, they are equally culpable for the man's death under state law, prosecutors may argue.
Investigators said several drops of Williams' blood found on Koch's front porch links him to the crime.
Charges against Skinner, Chase and Schoenemann, all from Burton, are pending, according to court records. Chase and Schoenemann face charges of accessory after the fact of a felony.