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PARTY MARKING CAPTURE OF FUGITIVE DEFENDED

A judge who welcomed a former fugitive back to her courtroom with balloons, streamers and a cake defended her actions Wednesday, saying that getting a killer and abuser of women off the streets is reason to celebrate.

Judge Faith Johnson threw the party Monday upon sentencing 53-year-old Billy Wayne Williams to life in prison.

Williams, who previously served time in prison for killing his wife, went on the lam a year ago while on trial in Johnson's court on charges of choking his girlfriend until she passed out. He was convicted in absentia of aggravated assault.

"A full year later, he was recaptured, off the streets, and no longer a community threat. And, yes, I threw a party," the judge said in a statement.

The judge said that about 4 million U.S. women a year are physically abused by their husbands or live-in partners and that about 30 percent of women and girls killed in this country are slain by their husbands or boyfriends.

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