Man charged with murder in girlfriend's shooting death - - Columbia, South Carolina

Man charged with murder in girlfriend's shooting death

The scene of the incident. (Source: Mary King) The scene of the incident. (Source: Mary King)
A previous mugshot of Percy Williams. (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center) A previous mugshot of Percy Williams. (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center)

A 31-year-old man has been charged with murder after turning himself in to authorities early Monday morning following a domestic dispute that turned deadly.

Richland County Sheriff's deputies say Percy Williams shot and killed his girlfriend in a home at 316 Todd Branch Road sometime before 6 a.m.

Investigators say 35-year-old Tabatha Priester was shot in the upper body and died in the bedroom. According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, Priester died from a gunshot wound to the head.

According to deputies, a male roommate was in the home when the incident happened.

Investigators are still working to determine what led up to the shooting. Family members say Priester may have been trying to end the relationship. Family and friends who saw her last night saying she was in good spirits.

"This is just a horrible way -- all horrible situation for her to have to lose her life," said Priester's cousin, Vaneshia Smith.

After the shooting, Williams drove the victim's car to a gas station on Two Notch Road, according to deputies. Investigators say Williams then called someone who picked him up and took him to the sheriff's department.

The victim has an 8-year-old son who was at his grandmother's house at the time of the incident, according to neighbors.

Priester's cousin, Tacora Thomas, was killed in a similar domestic violence situation in October, family members said.

Thomas died in October. Deputies say she was shot multiple times in the upper body by her husband Dexter Lee Bouleware. The two were in the process of separating and she had an order of protection against him.

Deputies say there had previous domestic incidents at the home.

A criminal background check shows an extensive criminal history for Percy Williams.

In late 2002, he spent six months in prison on a weapons and grand larceny conviction.

Then, in 2004, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison after being convicted for kidnapping, carjacking and armed robbery in Columbia. After serving 6 1/2 years, he was released in September 2010.

After leaving prison, Williams again found himself on the wrong side of the law. Failing to register as a sex offender and open container and drug charges landed him in jail again in 2011 after Corrections Department officials revoked his parole.

He was released from prison on Aug. 1, 2011.

Just weeks before Monday's arrest, Williams was charged with drug manufacture and possession on Jan. 4. It is unclear when he was released from jail.

With the state ranking second in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men, Priester's family is urging those in a violent situation not to wait.

"Life is more important than fighting someone or staying in someone's life," said Smith. "It's okay to be alone. It's okay to love yourself first; it's okay to love your kids, but sometimes you just have to walk away."

Williams was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

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