Judge Finds Homeless Man With History Of Delusions Competent For Trial In Teen Boy's Murder

·4 min read

A judge has ruled that the Florida drifter accused of murdering a 14-year-boy who disappeared during a bicycle ride is competent to stand trial.

Semmie Lee Williams, 39, stands accused of fatally stabbing high school freshman Ryan Rogers, whose body was found near the I-95 overpass in Palm Beach Gardens on Nov. 16, one day after he disappeared.

According to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Charles Burton agreed with two court-appointed psychologists who independently determined that Williams was mentally fit to stand trial last March.

Tuesday’s ruling comes after much resistance from Williams’ public defenders, who previously argued that their defendant has “long-standing and persistent mental illness,” including a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

According to the order to determine competency, the two court-appointed psychologists who deemed Williams competent, Dr. Stephen Alexander and Dr. Adam White, agreed with the defense that Williams lived with schizophrenia. However, Judge Burton determined Williams has since been able to keep his composure in court.

“Certainly, the court was able to observe his demeanor during the court proceedings and notes that his demeanor was appropriate at all times,” said Burton.

Dr. Gretchen Moy, who evaluated Williams for the defense, stated that Williams “discussed a group of people that have been harassing him,” including “the KKK, Free Masons, Nazis, Neighborhood Watch, the Illuminati and gang bangers.” Moy connected the defendant’s beliefs to his nomadic lifestyle, as Williams claimed to have moved frequently to hide from these groups.

According to the defense, Dr. Moy had “multiple sessions” with Williams, and stated that Williams “would not share his irrational ideas or delusional beliefs with Dr. White or Dr. Alexander because he knew that it could result in him being found incompetent to proceed.”

Dr. White, on the other hand, said Williams did, in fact, discuss “many of his delusions.”

“There is no doubt that the defendant suffers from a long-standing mental illness. This trial is a long way off, and who knows what the future holds,” Judge Burton wrote in his ruling. “However, the defendant is medication compliant and his symptoms have improved dramatically since the day of his arrest, according to his doctors.”

Williams’ mental health has spurred questions since his Dec. 1 arrest, when authorities found a bandana containing both the suspect’s and the victim’s blood in Williams’ backpack. The murder suspect told arresting officers that he was being placed under arrest for murder, “because of what they did to Black people about giving them syphilis.”

Williams soon attempted to tackle one of the officers to the ground.

Judge Burton stated in his ruling that “the court’s obligation is to focus on the defendant's mental state at the time of the mental health evaluations and not at the time of the arrest.”

Ryan Rogers Missing Poster
Ryan Rogers Missing Poster

Ryan Rogers missing poster Photo: Palm Beach Gardens PD

Prior to his arrest, Williams regularly posted videos to social media with a potpourri of claims, including that police put implants in his eyes and his deep-seated beliefs that he was being stalked, persecuted and sexually assaulted by strangers and cults.

The suspect has a lengthy criminal history, including the 2014 beating and strangulation of an elderly man who was left to die in a ditch, as reported by NBC West Palm Beach affiliate WPTV. In that case, Williams was found unfit to stand trial before being restored to competency two years later. He was mandated to spend the next two years in a residential facility for those with “severe and persistent mental illness” from 2018 to 2020.

Just one day after Ryan Rogers’ murder, Williams posted a video claiming someone attacked him the previous night and that “they had people ride past me on bikes, and I’ve been getting physically assaulted.”

Ryan Rogers was last seen on the evening of Nov. 15 leaving his Alton neighborhood home for a bike ride. His body was found the next day, and it was determined that he'd sustained stab wounds to the face and head.

Surveillance video and cell phone data put Williams and Rogers on the same street on the night of the murder, not far from where Rogers’ body was discovered the next day.

Earlier this year, prosecutors announced their intent to seek the death penalty in Williams’ case.

Williams is expected back in court for a status hearing on June 21.