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Man who terrorized teacher gets five years behind bars

After a contrite James Williams apologized in court Tuesday afternoon for missing his scheduled sentencing on May 18 for a break-in last May that mistakenly targeted a teacher’s East Side house, he was able to leave court with his previously agreed-upon sentence of five years in prison.

Williams, 23, of East Eagle Street, was sentenced to two concurrent five-year terms on two counts of first-degree burglary. He had pleaded guilty to the charges in March and was free on $20,000 bail when he missed his earlier sentencing date in front of Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka.

Williams told the judge he had gone to a friend’s funeral the day he was to be sentenced. He later contacted his attorney, Andrew C. LoTempio, and turned himself in the next day.

“I apologize. It was immature behavior on my part. There’s no excuse,” Williams told Erie County Judge Michael Pietruszka.

Williams pleaded guilty to being one of three men who, thinking they were at the home of a suspected drug dealer, forced their way into the teacher’s home on Blake Street at around midnight on May 14, 2014, by mistake and pulled a gun on the frightened woman, who lived alone, prosecutors said.

Unable to find the dealer, they left the house. A neighbor who saw armed men getting into a Jeep called police.

When officers tried to pull the Jeep over, a high-speed chase resulted, ending on Girard Place when the Jeep crashed into two parked cars.

One of the accomplices, Raymond Alston, 31, of Hill Street, is charged with two counts of first-degree burglary and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. The third man has not been found.

In agreeing to stay with the original plea deal, Pietruszka noted that Williams had no prior convictions, was not the driver during the chase and, according to DNA evidence, had not handled the gun during the crime.