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Emotions high as man arraigned in Norwich murder

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Phyllisha Williams cried out for her mother, cried out for her God and wailed in pain Wednesday afternoon in the halls of Norwich Superior Court, where a man she said she treated like family was arraigned in the murder of her son.

Phillip C. Wise, 40, made his first appearance in court Wednesday since being charged in July with the murder of 39-year-old Anthony Lashawn Williams, who was shot on Lake Street last summer. Wise was extradited from North Carolina and brought to Norwich on Tuesday night, according to the Norwich Police Department.

Wise, whose last known address was in Norwich, appeared before Judge Nuala Droney virtually Wednesday and was ordered held in lieu of a $2 million bond. When he appeared on screen, Williams' mother, who sat in the courtroom, cried out to the judge. She became so emotional that the judge had to call a recess just moments after the proceedings began.

"He's a coward. A coward, your honor," she shouted. "I let him in my home, I loved him like a son and he turned around and killed my baby."

Anthony Williams' aunt Benita Christian of New London embraced her sister in the hallway outside the courtroom during the recess.

"He didn't have to kill my baby," his mother cried. "It hurts so bad."

Christian said her family had known Wise for about 20 years. She said she introduced Wise to her nephew after meeting Wise through a recovery program. "He broke bread with us, he was like a family member," she said. "We used to go out and do all kinds of stuff together, go to parties and dancing."

Now, Christian said she can't even look at Wise. She sat in the back of the courtroom Wednesday and said she didn't look at the screen. "I don't need to see his face, I don't need an explanation, he knows what he did," she said.

About 4:30 p.m. on July 21, 2020, police responded to reports of a shooting on Lake Street. Anthony Williams had been shot and was taken to Backus Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just hours after he had been released from prison.

The state Department of Correction said Williams had been released from Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville the day he was shot. Judicial Branch records indicate that in February, Williams was sentenced for convictions of driving under the influence, violation of probation, breach of peace, assault and reckless endangerment.

According to Christian, Williams had confronted Wise that day about an incident that Wise was involved in. Wise shot him in the stomach during the confrontation, she said.

An extraditable warrant for Wise was approved exactly seven months ago, on July 24. He was arrested during a traffic stop in North Carolina in January and was brought to Norwich on Tuesday, police said in a news release late Tuesday night. The warrant remained sealed.

Police identified Wise as a suspect during the investigation and maintain that the shooting appeared to be a targeted attack against Williams. Wise, who was known to have connections to surrounding states, fled the area after the shooting, police said.

Wise had several pending cases in the Norwich court when the shooting occurred. He was arrested in Norwich in October 2019 and charged with interfering with an officer, fourth-degree sexual assault, third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace, according to court records. He also was charged in 2019 with possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and evading responsibility. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

He also had prior convictions from his home state of New Jersey, including possession of an illegal substance, possession of a handgun and manufacturing a controlled substance.

The judge said she set the bond at $2 million because she had concerns for the safety of the community and for Wise’s ability to appear in court as ordered.

Wise's case was continued to Friday and transferred to the Part A courthouse in New London, where major crimes are heard.

t.hartz@theday.com

Editor's Note: This update corrects the last name of shooting victim Anthony LaShawn Williams.

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