A Maryland man has been sentenced to three life terms in prison for bludgeoning a man to death with a sledgehammer and wounding two police officers.
Joseph Willis, of Pasadena, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to first-degree murder for beating 44-year-old Christopher Lawrence Jones while he slept in his Glen Burnie home on Feb. 5, 2020. Willis also pleaded guilty to attempted murder for seriously injuring two Anne Arundel County detectives by shooting them with a gun he stole from Jones' house.
The shooting sparked a 16-hour manhunt that locked residents of a Stony Beach neighborhood in their homes and closed nearby county schools. Willis was later discovered hiding with three people and a stash of drugs in a home on the peninsula.
The Capital reports that Judge Michael Wachs said there was no doubt that Willis intended to kill detectives Scott Ballard and Ian Preece when he opened fire on their cars in separate incidents. Ballard was shot in the face and critically injured. Preece was shot multiple times and suffered a severe injury to his arm. Both officers returned to work in January after nearly a year of rehabilitation.