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Killer is vague on a key detail

Published Sep. 18, 2006

Joshua Singletary admits that he doused Elizabeth Jewell Williams' ex-lover with gasoline on Aug. 10, 2003, and set him fatally ablaze.

But ambiguity crept in Thursday as he answered whether he did it on Williams' orders.

Testifying for the state in Williams' murder trial, Singletary said she told him to go after Charles "Chuck" Rock before Rock came after him.

"Did Beth Williams indicate to you how you could stop Chuck Rock?" prosecutor Jay Pruner asked.

"By killing him," Singletary said.

But Singletary responded equivocally under questioning from Williams' attorney.

Defense attorney Brian Gonzalez: "You didn't go there to hurt anybody, did you?"

Singletary: "Not necessarily, no, sir."

Gonzalez: "You didn't go there to kill anybody, did you?"

Singletary: "It wasn't my main intent."

Singletary, 29, told jurors he spent the month leading up to Rock's death working part time for Williams, 40, at her Beverage Castle in Riverview.

The two were friends. He crashed at her house, mooched her cocaine.

Williams talked at times about Rock, 35, with whom she had a stormy two-year relationship that ended in late 2002. She grew upset at seeing him with another woman.

On Aug. 9, 2003, Singletary introduced himself to Rock at a restaurant in Riverview and quickly got into an argument with him. Singletary was thrown out but returned later with Williams.

She refused to go inside. So Singletary said he wrote a note she dictated.

"The Rock, My name is Josh. Please don't ever tell me to haul a--. I was trying to be cool to you so don't act like a hard a--. Cuz that will get you f----- up."

Singletary and Williams returned to her Pinecrest home, where they got high.

Later, threatening phone calls were exchanged between Singletary, Rock and other men.

Singletary drove Williams' pickup to a gas station. She filled a jug with gasoline.

Singletary drove Williams home. They had more cocaine. Then she told him to go find Rock, he said, as "the way I could pay her back."

Singletary drove to Williams Park. A man ran toward the pickup; Singletary said he thought the man had a gun.

It was Rock. Singletary splashed Rock with gasoline and lit him on fire.

Rock died six days later from his injuries.