[UPDATE] William Yawn Found Guilty for Deadly Shooting

By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email

***UPDATE 11-12-2010 11:52 PM***

A man found guilty of murdering a Tallahassee mother back in August of 2008 is given three life sentences in court this morning.

William Yawn was convicted of killing Tanesha Overstreet in her own kitchen while three children hid in a bedroom down the hall in August of 2008.

Yawn stood up in court this morning and apologized to the family, saying he couldn't even explain why he did it because he was under the influence of so many drugs at the time.


***UPDATE 10-7-2010 11:12 PM***

It took the jury just over two hours to come back with a guilty verdict for a man charged with murdering a Tallahassee mother.

Both families sat in the courtroom in silence tonight as the jury handed down a guilty verdict for William Yawn.

Yawn is convicted of killing Tanesha Overstreet in her own kitchen while three children hid in a bedroom down the hall in August of 2008.

Yawn told deputies he bought crack from Overtstreet's boyfriend and the two had been arguing over money.

In a recording of Yawn's statement to deputies that day, Yawn said Overstreet grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and started tugging on it ... and that he accidentally shot her.

Yawn was questioned at the sheriff's office within six hours of the shooting ... and he told them it as an accident.

Yawn showed no emotion as the guilty verdict was given but it was completely different for Tanesha's mother who sobbed as the words "guilty" filled the room.

Renee Jones-Johnson, mother of Tanesha Overstreet, says, "I am ecstatic. I'm just glad that my daughter can rest in peace and that justice was done."

I spoke with Yawn's family after the verdict was given and they declined to speak on camera.

After being convicted of first degree murder which carries a mandatory life sentence, Yawn entered a plea to possession of a fire arm by a convicted felon.

Yawn is due back in court on November 12th.


*** UPDATE 10-7-2010 8:40 PM ***
Jury finds William Yawn guilty on all charges of murdering a Tallahassee woman. We will have more information as it becomes available.
His sentencing has been scheduled for November 12. His plea of guilty to the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm carries with it an automatic sentence of 10 years.


UPDATED 10.7.2010 6:20pm by Julie Montanaro

A jury is now deliberating in the murder trial of William Yawn.

UPDATED 10.7.2010 4:05 pm by Julie Montanaro

Attorneys have just started closing arguments in the trial of William Yawn.

UPDATED 10.7.2010 3:40pm by Julie Montanaro

Prosecutors played a 30 minute recording of Yawn's statement to deputies the morning of the shooting.

Yawn was sitting handcuffed in a sheriff's office interview room, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. One of the first things he said was "No matter what I tell you, it'll be a life sentence regardless."

He told deputies that he bought drugs from Tanesha Overstreet's boyfriend, Frank "Terrell" Thomas and the two had been arguing over money. Yawn told investigators he paid Thomas what he could, because he had bills and kids, but Thomas threatened him and his family.

Yawn told investigators that the door to Overstreet's home was open that night and he went in to find Overstreet at the sink.

Yawn told investigators that during the confrontation, Overstreet grabbed the barrel of the gun and "that was it." He says she was tugging the shotgun and he was trying to get his finger off the trigger when it fired. He said it was "an accident, really."

Yawn admitted to deputies in the recording that he helped himself to some cocaine hidden in a dresser drawer and smoked it later that morning.

He ultimately told deputies that they could find the shotgun under his bed.

The judge also reversed an earlier ruling and allowed the medical examiner to testify about autopsy results that indicated Overstreet had cocaine in her system when she died. Dr. Anthony Clark says she would have ingested it "minutes to hours before she died."

Defense attorneys asked if Overstreet could have suffered from common cocaine side effects like anxiety, confusion and paranoia, and Clark said yes.

However, Clark told prosecutors, in his opinion, the amount of cocaine in Overstreet's system would not have prevented her from recognizing the threat of an intruder with a shotgun pointed at her.
UPDATED 10.7.2010 2:50pm

The state has rested its case against William Yawn.

The defense is preparing to call one more witness.

Yawn told the judge that he does not wish to testify.

The case could be in the hands of the jury by late this afternoon.

WCTV will update you on the latest.


UPDATED 10.7.2010 12:00pm

Testimony continues today in a Tallahassee murder trial, where jurors had a chance to see the murder weapon and much more.

Courtroom 3C was full of brown bags and red evidence tape this morning as jurors saw much of the evidence against 35 year old William Yawn.

Yawn is accused of murdering Tanesha Overstreet in her home back in August, 2008 as three children hid in a bedroom at the end of the hall. Sgt. Wiley Meggs arrested Yawn at his home shortly afterward and says they found a 12 gauge shotgun under his bed.

Meggs say they also found several cans, fashioned for smoking crack.

The jury also heard from an FDLE firearms expert who says the shotgun blast that killed Overstreet was fired from 5 to 10 feet away.

The medical examiner is on the stand right now. X-rays clearly show Overstreet's body filled with shotgun pellets. The medical examiner says the shot shredded her aorta and her liver.

The defense is not disputing that Yawn shot Overstreet, but claims it was an accident...but that will be up to the jury to decide if it was an accident or murder.

The jury will possibly get the case later today. The state plans to show a video tape of Yawn's statement to deputies and then we'll see if Yawn will take the stand.

Stay with WCTV for the latest.


UPDATED 10.6.2010 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

The tears flowed in a Tallahassee murder trial Wednesday as three children were forced to describe the night Tanesha Overstreet was gunned down in the kitchen of her own home back in August 2008.

The accused gunman claims the shooting was an accident and by week's end that will be up to a jury to decide.

Breon Thomas was one of three children sleeping in the Wren Drive home that night who awoke around 4am to hear Tanesha Overstreet arguing with a man in the kitchen.

Thomas says he peeked through a crack in the door and saw his older brother's girlfriend looking down the barrel of a shotgun.

"He was like give me what you got, T.T. Give me what you got," Thomas said. "She kept saying, l gave you everything and she was like just please don't shoot me. I just had a child."

Overstreet had given birth to a baby girl three days earlier and had just come home from the hospital the day before the shooting.

Thomas, his cousin Richard Footman and Overstreet's son Christopher would soon hear gunfire and then silence and then venture out to find Overstreet dying on the kitchen floor.

Footman says her son was holding her hand and she tried to say goodbye.

"I think she was trying to tell him that she loved him, but she kind of like couldn't get it all out," he testified.

This is the man accused of pulling the trigger, 35 year old William Yawn. His attorney admits Yawn was a crack addict then, and claims Overstreet's boyfriend was his dealer.

"He does have a shotgun for protection," defense attorney Darren Shippy told the jury, but he said Yawn had no intention to shoot Overstreet and no motive and called the shooting an accident.


"911 What's your emergency?"


The tension in the courtroom was palpable when prosecutors pressed play on the 911 call the children made that night. You can hear them screaming and crying as Thomas tried to take first aid advice from the operator.

Thomas covered his ears and broke down sobbing on the stand and minutes later, he abruptly got up and left the courtroom saying "I don't want to hear no more."

Christopher Jackson, Overstreet's son, testified Wednesday afternoon.

The children were ages 10, 12 and 16 at the time of the shooting and Overstreet's newborn was a premie still in the hospital.

Family members filled the courtroom benches on both sides of the aisle.

Testimony has wrapped up for the day and is expected to continue through Friday.
[UPDATE] 10-6-2010 12:05PM -- by Julie Montanaro

Breon Thomas is on the stand. He was one of the three children in the home that night. He was 16 at the time and is 18 now. He testified that he saw Yawn pointing a gun at Overstreet and heard
him saying "give me all you've got." Thomas said Overstreet kept
saying "please don't shoot me." He says Yawn came down the hall and
closed the door and then they heard a shot. Thomas says they waited
several minutes before they went out to see what happened and saw
Overstreet lying on the kitchen floor. Thomas called 911. When
prosecutors started to play the 911 tape for the jury, Thomas covered
his ears and then broke down sobbing and had to leave the courtroom.
"I don't want to hear no more," he said as he walked out.


[UPDATE] 10-6-2010 11:38AM -- by Julie Montanaro

Defense attorney Darren Shippy says Yawn was a crack
addict who bought cocaine from Overstreet's boyfriend. Shippy says
Yawn owed the boyfriend money and claims the boyfriend had threatened Yawn saying, "The next time I see you I'll have a gun."

He urged jurors not to be emotionally swayed by the fact that Overstreet had just had a baby and says Yawn took special care to go down the hall and close the door to the children's bedroom.

He claims the shooting was an accident, and Yawn had no intention or motive to shoot her.


[UPDATE] 10-6-2010 11:20AM -- by Julie Montanaro

Attorneys are presenting opening statements to the jury.
Prosecutor John Hutchins says Yawn had been to Overstreet's home
before to buy cocaine from her boyfriend. Hutchins says Yawn went to the home that night even though her boyfriend had told him he wasn't
home. Hutchins says three children sleeping in a bedroom awakened to
the sound of arguing and peeked out their door to see Yawn pointing a
shotgun at Overstreet. They pretended to be sleeping when Yawn came down the hall, Hutchins said.


[UPDATE] 10-6-2010 10:07AM -- by Julie Montanaro

The trial of 35 year old William Yawn is now underway. The state is trying to prove first degree murder, robbery and more in the August 2008 shooting death of Tanesha Overstreet. Yawn's attorney intends to argue that Yawn was at the home looking for drugs, but the shooting was an accident. The judge has already ruled the jury will not hear evidence that Overstreet had cocaine and marijuana in her system when she died.

WCTV will keep you updated on the trial.


[UPDATE] 10-4-2010 1:45PM --

A Tallahassee man is set to stand trial for killing a woman while her children hid in another room.

Deputies say the children called 911 and even tried to revive their dying mother.

Jury selection is underway this morning for 35 year old William Yawn. He's accused of robbery and murder.

Yawn is accused of breaking into a woman's home on Wren Drive back in August 2008 looking for drugs. Deputies say Yawn wound up shooting 32 year old Tanesha Overstreet with a shotgun. Deputies say her children, ages 10,12 and 16, heard their mother begging for her life as they hid in another room.

Testimony is slated to begin later this week.

Stay with WCTV for the latest.

The original August 2008 story is attached below.


(August 2008) -- The shooting happen around four o'clock Sunday morning at 7513 Wren Drive in Tallahassee.

Deputies say 33-year-old William Yawn entered Tanesha Overstreet's home through an unlocked back door.

They say he shot the 32-year old with a shotgun in her kitchen after demanding drugs.

Authorities say after Yawn fled the scene, three children who were inside the home during the shooting called 911 and attempted to provide first aid to the victim.

An autopsy performed this morning shows she died from a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Deputies arrested Yawn and say he admitted to the burglary and the shooting.

Yawn went before Judge Ron Flury this morning and he is currently being held in the Leon County Jail without a bond.

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  • by Common Cents$$$$ on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:37 AM
    I am not for anyone, including the government profiting off the sales of drugs. You have to take the profit out of the drug trade completely for the trading to stop. Allow the production, criminalized the sale. If you allow the production but not the sale then users can produce their own. And there is no selling. It is the selling of the drugs that is the problem. When people can profit off the sale, they are going to push the sale and they are going to use the trade as a revenue source to fund their wars in Afghanistan, Mexico ect. If user can produce their own the dealers have nothing to sale. They go out of business and are no longer able to fund their wars.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Nov 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM
    If crack was legal and sold in stores and the crackhead has already spent his whole paycheck at the zippy mart,you you really think that he is not going to rob and possibly kill the clerk to get more,just because it is legal?
  • by TallyTrashTalks2 Location: Tallahassee on Oct 8, 2010 at 08:44 PM
    Common sense here from a non druggie. Make drugs legal and tax the hell out it like they do smokes now! Great revenue and the "drug dealers" won't be interested, as you've taken their profit margin from them. When was the last time you read a story about a person being killed over a pack of cigarettes?? Just sayin'...when alcohol became legal too, lots of bootleggers went out of business. Alot of "thrill" loses luster if it's legal. There won't be too many drug "territory" wars, if anyone can stop at the local convenience stores or other outlets and drop the money in the vending machines like buying a pack of cigs or a coke! Food for thought.
  • by iam Location: ___ on Oct 8, 2010 at 07:03 PM
    @Tina -- When Teddy Roosevelt was president, anybody could heroin and cocaine -- nothing to sign, no limits on amount -- kinda like buying sugar. Ditto when Lincoln was president. Guess what, genius? No drug gangs, cartels or other such abominations. Nobody stealing to get dope. Oh right, you apparently LIKE the way things are going -- hmmm, let me guess -- Dept o' Corrections employee?
  • by Anonymous on Oct 8, 2010 at 12:29 PM
    Tina--I live in a world where people work hard to make an honest living, and for every hour that I (we) work Uncle Sam gets appx 25% of my (our) pay. If drugs were legalized at least it would keep the hard core scum of the earth, low life bottom sucking dealers from getting rich off the weak minded addicks that steal, cheat and kill for the poison that the dealers sell. Also, by the way, there are supervised medical facilities that provide herion to addicts. Therefore, in regards to the dope dispensory that you think is so rediculous it does in some sort of fashion already exist! CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!!! Search Herion Aid Clinics. And think about the taxes that congress cound impose on recreational drugs and the revenue they could give to the education system for our children and this countries future. Sounds crazy, but it just may work!!!
  • by TINA Location: TALLAHASSEE on Oct 8, 2010 at 10:33 AM
    ANONYMOUS- I know you must be on crack to write something that stupid... State run dope dispensory, what world are you living in?
  • by Anonymous on Oct 8, 2010 at 08:52 AM
    AMEN - iam
  • by iam Location: country on Oct 8, 2010 at 08:43 AM
    If this vicious cretin had been buying his dope down at a state-run pharmacy, this would not have happened. No dead Tanesha, no kids living in a drugdealing environment -- and no paying big bucks to investigate, arrest, try and incarcerate Yawn. Trying to ban dope is the worst thing America ever did to itself, unless you happen to hate liberty and the Bill of Rights; love gangsters, tyranny and murder; and have a desperate desire to live in a dictatorship.
  • by urmom on Oct 8, 2010 at 08:43 AM
    No wonder he smoked crack....look how big he is NOW!
  • by Anonymous on Oct 8, 2010 at 08:17 AM
    What kind of mother would have her sickly premature baby still in the hospital staying with or allowing a drug dealer to stay with her and subjecting her other children to the the risk of endangerment---A SORRY, NO GOOD ONE-THAT DOES NOT OR DID NOT NEED OR DESERVE TO REPRODUCE AND LIVE OFF HARD WORKING TAX PAYING AMERICANS!!! When will the trial begin for the provider of the drugs??? Bars are charged when they serve too much alcohol and someone dies due to the accident??? We all want justice, so therefore lets get the scum off the streets that are providing the poison and the world as a whole will be better!!!
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