Prisons across the United States have been releasing low-level offenders to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus in the prisons. From Florida's Hillsborough County Jail, 164 prisoners had been released last month. Non-violent offenders were screened and deemed eligible for release. After gaining freedom on March 19, Joseph Edwards Williams reportedly shot a man dead on March 20. Police arrested him on Monday for murder.

Williams was earlier arrested on March 13 for drug possession. Deputies found heroin and drug paraphernalia on Williams on the day of his arrest. The 26-year-old man was awaiting his court trial in jail. However, due to the pressure on the prison system to keep staff and prisoners safe from COVID-19, Williams gained his freedom.

Since Williams had been charged with a low-level non-violent crime, he made the list of over 100 prisoners eligible for release from Hillsborough County Jail. All the prisoners were supposed to stay in their homes after their release, only to return to court on the date of their hearings. Breaching the terms of his release, Williams allegedly gunned down a man the day after he was released.

The victim was killed near 81st Street South and Ash Avenue. Police responded to 911 calls around 10:40 pm local time. The unnamed man was pronounced dead after police reached the Progress Village area. An investigation was launched to find the man's murderer.

On Monday, police arrested Williams and held him on multiple charges. He now faces charges for second-degree murder with a firearm, a gun charge, and a charge for resisting an officer, WFLA reported. With bail set at $250k (£200k), Williams is being held in police custody. He appeared in court through video call where he was informed of the full charges against him. Instead of a non-violent and low-level offence, the alleged murderer now faces more serious charges.

Sheriff Chad Chronister stated that Williams took advantage of the global crisis to commit his crime. He urged the State Attorney to prosecute Williams to the fullest extent of the law.

Man arrested for committing murder day after being released from prison due to COVID-19 prevention measures. (Representational Image) iStock