A Bay Shore mother sobbed with relief Wednesday evening when a Suffolk jury convicted a man of shooting her daughter to death three years ago in a Bohemia motel room where she had been working as a prostitute.
Alvina Cunningham’s sobs grew so strong that she ran out of breath and had to recover in a small room. When she could speak again, she said her daughter, Shalece Cunningham, 24, didn’t deserve to get shot in the head by Stoker Olukotun Williams, 27, of Bay Shore, on Sept. 7, 2013.
Williams was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree attempted murder and other charges.
“As a society, we may not all agree with the choices my daughter made,” Alvina Cunningham said, as her husband Kenneth held her tight. “But he had no right to execute my child over those choices. I don’t care what she did. She was still my child.”
The victim’s father said, “I miss her.”
Jurors deliberated less than 90 minutes before finding Williams guilty.
He faces a maximum of life in prison without parole when Condon sentences him Dec. 6.
Williams admitted all along that he had killed Cunningham, robbed her and her pimp and shot at police officers who came to the scene. He represented himself at the three-week trial before state Supreme Court Justice William Condon.
In his closing argument, he told jurors it wasn’t his fault.
“For the past three years, I’ve been dealing with psychotic episodes, and now a young girl’s life is cut short,” Williams said. “Every night, I pray she didn’t suffer.”
Williams never said her name during his argument, referring to her only as “the victim” or “the hooker.” He said his alternate personality, Malik Thompson, committed the crime.
“Malik told me he shot her in the face,” Williams said. “Then I found out at trial she was shot in the back of her head. So that made me feel like a monster.”
But Williams said that despite crime-scene photos and autopsy findings saying otherwise, Cunningham was shot in the face. At other points in his closing argument, he said someone had put voodoo on him and that Cunningham’s spirit came to him and told him, “Karma’s a bitch, and you’re going to be a hooker in your next life.”
Williams explained, “My other personality didn’t know that robbing people who made dirty money was wrong. . . . I don’t think I should be punished for this.”
Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said in his closing argument that Williams’ claim of mental illness was an offensive lie.
“In 30 years as a prosecutor, I’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced during this trial,” he told jurors. “But something new happens every day.”
He urged jurors to reject Williams’ attempt to be found not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.
“I don’t care if he calls himself Stoker Williams, Malik Thompson or Bozo the Clown,” Biancavilla said. “He did it. . . . He says things that he wants you to believe are true, and there’s no evidence for them.”
After the verdict, Biancavilla sat with Cunningham’s parents until her mother could catch her breath. “This chapter is closed now,” he told them. “You’ve waited a long time.”
When Alvina Cunningham could speak again, tears still streamed down her face.
“It’s a good day,” she said. “We waited three long years. It’s over.”