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Pasadena man who bludgeoned friend to death and shot two police officers gets life in prison

Posted at 3:03 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 17:13:05-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A 22-year-old Pasadena man who last year beat his friend to death and shot two police officers, will likely serve the rest of his life behind bars.

Anne Arundel County judge Michael J. Wachs on Friday sentenced 23-year-old Joseph Willis to three consecutive life sentences with the possibility of parole.

Joseph Willis

In February 2020, a roommate found Christopher Jones, 44, beaten to death at home with his car missing from the driveway.

The roommate told police Willis may have been responsible.

About six-hours later detectives Scott Ballard and Ian Preece found Willis driving the stolen car in the area of Fort Smallwood Road and Pennington Avenue.

Willis fired a gun striking Ballard, and continued to lead police on a chase through the Stoney Beach community where he shot Preece.

Police launched a 16-hour manhunt and ultimately found Willis inside a home on River Bank Court.

RELATED: Bail denied for suspect accused of killing man, shooting two detectives in Anne Arundel County

In court it was learned Willis had been at Jones's house doing drugs the night of the murder.

For some reason, Willis waited hours for Jones to fall asleep. When he finally did, Willis struck him in the head with a sledgehammer.

Jones reportedly was still breathing, prompting Willis to bludgeon him several more times and suffocate him with a chlorine gas-like substance.

During sentencing, the defense said Willis was raised in an abusive home.

Both wounded detectives were in the courtroom and testified as well.

While in custody awaiting trial, Willis developed a trend of more disturbing behavior.

On one occasion last April, he reportedly made a 6-inch shank in his cell. Months later he tested positive for drugs while in jail. Then in December, Willis allegedly coaxed a corrections officer to get close to his cell and popped a bag of hazardous bodily fluids.

“I hope today’s sentencing provides the family of Christopher Jones and Detectives Ballard and Preece with a sense of relief and justice,” said State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. “More than a year ago, Mr. Willis killed Mr. Jones in cold blood while he slept, stole his car, and then shot at two veteran law enforcement officers while attempting to stop him from continuing his crime spree."