Alexandria resident pleads guilty to first-degree murder

Alexandria resident pleads guilty to first-degree murder
Melvin John Williams (Photo courtesy Alexandria Sheriff's Department)

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

An Alexandria resident pleaded guilty Thursday to a four-count indictment, including murder in the first degree, the Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney announced in a news release.

Melvin John Williams, 23, was charged with murder, malicious wounding, impeding a police officer and animal cruelty, in addition to first degree murder. He was sentenced to 33 years for his crimes.

DaSheria Barksdale (Courtesy photo)

Evidence established that Williams stabbed victim DaSheria Barksdale in a residence on the 900 block of North Henry Street on Sept. 14. Williams and Barksdale had previously dated and had lived together at the residence for about two years. 

Two days prior to the murder, Williams recorded videos in which he threatened Barksdale’s kitten. Williams subsequently attacked the kitten and fractured its leg. Barksdale, as a result of the incident, ended the relationship and asked Williams to move out.

Williams and Barksdale were both present at a gathering of people at the residence in the early hours of Sept. 14. Williams followed Barksdale into the upstairs bedroom shortly after 1 a.m. Witnesses heard Barksdale screaming and some observed Williams holding Barksdale at knife point in the bedroom. 

One individual present at the gathering attempted to enter the bedroom and use force to defend Barksdale. He, however, was stabbed multiple times in the groin by Williams and jumped out of a second story window to escape. 

Police were called to the residence and, upon their arrival, found Williams barricaded inside the bedroom with Barksdale. At that point, Williams yelled at police: “I’ve killed her. Now you’ll have to kill me.” 

Police forced the bedroom door open and found Williams, still armed with a knife, inside. Barksdale was found to have suffered multiple stab wounds, which were determined to have caused her death.

Williams refused to listen to officers’ commands or put down his knife. Officers used a taser to attempt to subdue him. Even at that point, Williams did not drop the knife and later turned the knife on himself.

He was taken into custody after a brief struggle and transported to a hospital to be treated for his self-inflicted wounds. He was hospitalized for several days and, upon his discharge, was taken to the Truesdale Adult Detention Center, where he remained throughout the case.

“DaSheria Barksdale was a wonderful, caring human being and my thoughts are with her mother, her friends and her family, all of whom were traumatized by this senseless tragedy,” Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in a statement. “Domestic-related violence remains a clear and present problem in our community. In this case, the defendant’s cruel and callous infliction of injury upon a defenseless animal was the signpost of further violence to come. Animal cruelty, by itself, a serious crime and it is often linked to violence against domestic partners.”

“In his rage, the defendant lashed out against the person whom he allegedly loved. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no love in his heart, only a desire to manipulate, control and ultimately punish Ms. Barksdale for deciding she wanted out of the relationship. The defendant now has three decades in a maximum security prison to reflect upon the monstrous wrong he perpetrated,” Porter’s statement continued.