By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
In the bedroom, Hunt's eyes fell upon a cluster of unmarked pill bottles.
Hunt told police that's when he confronted Williams. He demanded to know if the teacher had HIV. Williams brushed him off and asked for a blowjob. Hunt refused. The men fought, shoving and pushing each other. Hunt lunged toward the door. Williams grabbed him in a bear hug. Then he threw Hunt on the bed.
"Are you trying to rape me?" Hunt demanded, according to the probable-cause affidavit. "I know you got that shit. What are you trying to do, give it to me?"
Hunt claimed that Williams tried to pull off his shorts, announcing, "I'm a get that ass."
"Get the fuck back," Hunt shouted. As they struggled, Hunt reached into his waistband and pulled out his gun.
The first shot made Williams collapse in horror, examining his bleeding hand. Hunt pulled the trigger again, striking his lover in the head.
Hunt stayed in the room just long enough to watch the color drain from Williams' face. Then he picked up the shell casings, grabbed Williams' cell phone, and fled.
Walking home on Silver Beach Road, Hunt threw the shell casings into a trash can. He tore off his blood-stained shirt and chucked it too. Then he hid Williams' cell phone in a storm drain.
After the sun rose, Williams' boyfriend tried repeatedly to reach him, but calls went straight to voice mail. In the afternoon, with his grandmother's surgery finished, the boyfriend raced back to the apartment. He twisted the key in the lock and called Williams' name. Walking into the bedroom, he saw his lover lying on the bed, fully clothed. He tried to shake Williams awake. Then he saw the blood and dialed 911.
At first, police focused on the players at the card game in their search for suspects. Six days after the killing, they got a warrant for Williams' phone records. They discovered the series of calls from Hunt's phone. It took them 12 more days to arrest Hunt.
When confronted, Hunt first told police that he'd gone to Williams' apartment to collect $20 the teacher owed him. During a second interview, however, he confessed to shooting Hunt and gave his account of what happened. He said he had sold the weapon to a friend for $50. Police retrieved the gun and found Williams' cell phone in the storm drain. On June 1, Hunt was charged with second-degree murder and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail.
As Hunt awaits trial, his case poses a tangle of legal and ethical questions.
Williams' autopsy report does not specify whether he had HIV, but the police did find unmarked pill bottles in his bedroom, and a pharmacist confirmed that the meds found inside are used to treat the virus.
Even if he was infected, Williams was not required to tell the Palm Beach County School District. Under federal law, schoolteachers have no obligation to disclose their HIV-positive status to their employers. However, he would have been required to inform Hunt. In Florida, it's a felony for a person with HIV to hide his status from a sexual partner, and people have been prosecuted for the crime.
This January, for instance, Olympic bronze medalist equestrian Darren Chiacchia was charged in Ocala because an ex-lover alleged that Chiacchia exposed him to HIV. Chiacchia pleaded not guilty and is still awaiting trial. In 2007, South Beach club promoter Eliodor Kersaint, 22, was charged with having sex with a 19-year-old woman without telling her he had HIV. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years' probation.
Anton Josey, 34, of Pompano Beach, said that his lover, Dominique Duval, 23, gave him HIV — so he took justice into his own hands. Police allege that Josey waited for Duval after work, dragged her into a car at gunpoint, and shot her. He was charged with murder in August, and the case is pending in Broward County Court.
Hunt's statements to police suggest he will argue that he acted in self-defense. His public defender, Palm Beach County Assistant Public Defender Michael Schutt, declined to comment for this article. However, according to a longtime homicide prosecutor not involved in the case, Williams' HIV status alone would not be enough to justify the shooting. In Florida, you can use deadly force only if you believe the action is necessary to prevent "imminent death," "great bodily harm," or a "forcible felony," the statutes say.
"The fact that you think that you're going to contract a disease from someone is not a legal ground to use deadly force," says Chuck Morton, chief assistant state attorney in Broward County. "But certainly, the forcible rape does give you the legal right to defend yourself using equal force or deadly force."
Back in Riviera Beach, life on the down low continues. One killing can't reverse decades of inertia and prejudice. And it certainly won't stop the spread of AIDS. Every year, a new group of black men who sleep with men get infected. In fact, between 2000 and 2009, the annual number of newly reported HIV cases among that group in Palm Beach County increased slightly, from 38 to 43.