The final suspect in the murder of a Center Grove resident has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Charles Lehman, 23, had pleaded guilty to the March 2015 stabbing death of Steven Williams, a Center Grove area resident. Lehman was the cousin of Steven Williams’ wife, Opal Williams.

Opal Williams and her boyfriend, Rickey King, have also been convicted in the murder. Last year, Opal Williams was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Earlier this year, King received a 45-year prison sentence. Both had pleaded guilty to murdering 52-year-old Steven Williams.

“It is difficult to understand how not one of these three individuals acted to stop the plan in motion and prevented Steven Williams being lured to his death,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said. “We hope that the admission of guilt by the defendants provides some measure of justice due to the other family members and friends of Mr. Williams.”

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Family members of Steven Williams weren’t present at the sentencing, as they have since moved out of state, but they had requested that Lehman receive the maximum sentence, deputy prosecutor Anne Frangos said.

Public defender Jessica Cicchini read a statement written by Lehman, in which he apologized for the murder and asked for forgiveness, saying he regrets his actions from that day.

The case was one that Marion County Superior Court Judge Marc Rothenberg described as unbelievable.

Police have said Steven Williams was abducted by Lehman and King, then murdered under a bridge in Indianapolis.

Steven Williams, a computer programmer, died of a stab wound to the chest and multiple cuts to the throat and neck.

He was married to Opal Williams in May 2007, and the two lived in the Wakefield subdivision off Smith Valley Road in White River Township. But in the year before his death, their marriage became rocky. Opal Williams, who worked as a truck driver, had reconnected with King, an old boyfriend. Steven Williams had told her he wanted a divorce, but the couple reconciled. Then they separated, she moved out, and he filed paperwork for a divorce in December, according to court documents. But the couple were working it out again and told the court they weren’t going to show up for a divorce hearing that March because they had worked out their problems.

The next day, Lehman lured Steven Williams out of his Center Grove area house by telling him that Opal Williams had fallen and injured herself, according to the court documents. When he stepped into the front yard, Lehman attacked him and forced Steven Williams into his own van. Lehman and King drove north to Indianapolis, pulling off West Street and going under the Raymond Street bridge.

Lehman knew about the location because he had lived under it in a tent when he was homeless, the police report said.

The two men stabbed Steven Williams in his chest, then allowed him to call his wife and beg for his life. Opal Williams told Lehman and King to “do it.”

Steven Williams later passed out, and King and Lehman slit Steven Williams’ throat. Steven Williams’ body was rolled into a carpet and placed into the White River, police said.

Cicchini argued that Lehman’s past issues with mental illnesses and intellectual disability merited some leniency from the court, and that his sentence, which could have been as long as 55 years, should be consistent with his co-defendants.

As part of the sentence, Lehman will undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment. Lehman received 1,189 days credit for time served and good behavior.

At a glance

Here is a look at the people involved in the case:

Victim

Steven Williams, then 52, stabbed and dumped into the White River after pleading for his life from his wife and her boyfriend and cousin.

Suspects

Opal Williams, 37, sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder. Police said Williams told her boyfriend, Rickey King, and cousin, Charles Lehman Jr., to kill her husband, Steven Williams. She then called police to report him missing.

Charles Lehman Jr., AGE, sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder. Police said Lehman lured Steven Williams into his vehicle, saying his wife was hurt, and then drove him to Indianapolis, stabbed him and dumped his body underneath a bridge.

Rickey King, 58, sentenced to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder. Police said Lehman and King stabbed Steven Williams in the chest, allowed him to call his wife and beg for his life, and then slit his throat when he lost consciousness.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.