A 55-year-old Michigan man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing Michigan radio news anchor Jim Matthews in front of his family and critically injuring his 10-year-old son with a hammer last year. Arthur Levan Williamson on Thursday pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree premeditated murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, and three counts of unlawful imprisonment, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
A charge of felony murder against Williamson was dropped by prosecutors, as the first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole under Michigan state law.
According to a press release from the Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, as a habitual fourth offender, Williamson will also face a mandatory 25-year sentence for the assault and unlawful imprisonment charges. Assistant Prosecutor Steve Fox agreed not to bring any additional charges against Williamson in exchange for his plea.
A no contest plea, also known as a nolo contendere plea, means the defendant does not admit their guilt, but concedes that the state has sufficient evidence to convict them at trial. In a criminal proceeding, it is treated the same way as a guilty plea. Williamson had been scheduled to begin his murder trial next month but will instead appear in court for a sentencing hearing on May 31, prosecutors said in the release.
The overnight anchor at Detroit radio station WWJ-AM for nearly seven years, Williamson killed Matthews in a brutal attack inside the veteran newsman’s home on Sept. 23, 2022. The attack was recounted by Nicole Guertin, Matthews’ longtime girlfriend and mother of his two young children, during a preliminary hearing in February.
‘When Jim gets home, I’m going to kill him’
Guertin was friends with Williamson, whom she called “Smokey,” and told police that she let him into their home at 4 a.m. while Matthews was at work.
Guertin said that Williamson came to the home with crack cocaine and heroin. After the two smoked crack in the bedroom, Williamson reportedly went to the garage to get a hammer, saying he needed to fix his hubcap.
When he returned, he allegedly pulled out a knife and told Guertin he wanted to “role play.” When she refused, he allegedly slashed her throat with the knife and bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties.
“He said, ‘when Jim gets home, I’m going to kill him,’” Guertin testified, according to courtroom footage by Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK. “He said if I tried to warn [Jim] in any way, he’d kill the kids.”
Matthews and Guertin’s 10-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter were asleep in the house when Guertin was allegedly tied up. She then testified that she heard Matthews come home and shut the door behind him.
“I heard [Matthews] say, ‘Howdy’ and then heard him screaming, ‘What the f—?’ and screaming my name,” she told the court. “I yelled, ‘I can’t do anything. I’m tied up!’”
She said she could only watch as Matthews tried to run for the bedroom while Williamson kept “hitting him and stabbing him” with the knife and hammer.
“[Matthews] ended up in the bathroom and fell to the floor. He grabbed him by his head and slit his throat,” she said of Williamson. “Before he slit his throat, Jim said, ‘Oh god.’”
After duct-taping her to the bedpost, Guertin reportedly said that Williamson left the bedroom and returned carrying her son, whose eyes, wrists, and mouth had also been duct-taped.
When the child continued “whimpering” after Williamson told him to be quiet, he allegedly beat the child with the same hammer used to bludgeon Matthews.
“Smokey hit him in the head with a hammer,” she said, adding that she was begging him to stop. “He hit me in the head with the hammer and told me to be quiet.”
Guertin said that her daughter woke up and found Matthews’ body.
“I heard her say, ‘is that my dad? Did you kill my dad?’” Guertin testified.
Guertin testified that she had been blindfolded but heard Williamson opening bottles of lube and sexually assaulting her daughter before attempting to kill himself by overdosing on heroin, according to a report from the Macomb Daily.
Guertin said she freed herself and escaped with her daughter. The 10-year-old boy was found tied up in a closet with blunt-force trauma injuries requiring brain and ear surgery.
Police say they found Williamson shirtless in the home’s basement suffering from an apparent drug overdose. Medics administered Narcan and transported him to the hospital, where he was arrested.
Williamson had previously been convicted of breaking and entering and assaulting a police officer in 2013. He also was convicted of assault with the intent to commit murder, kidnapping, and several weapons offenses in 2002. He also has several drug offenses dating to 1993.
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