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    Key witness in murder trial sentenced to time served

    Linsey Baxter Hardwick

    The Leesburg woman who served as the key witness in the murder trial against Ryan Williams has been sentenced to one year in jail for her role after the crime.

    Linsey Hardwick, now 24, was held in the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center from January 2013 to January 2014 and is expected to be released immediately.

    Originally charged with first-degree murder, Hardwick pleaded guilty Sept. 25 to possession of oxycodone and accessory to murder after the fact. A condition of her plea was testifying against Williams, who was found guilty of murdering JoVaughn Johnson in 2012.

    Hardwick's testimony proved key in the conviction of Williams, now 33.

    At the time of the crime, Hardwick and Williams were in a romantic relationship. On Dec. 27, Hardwick drove Williams to Great Trail and Trail Run terraces in Sterling. Williams got out of the car and went into JoVaughn Johnson's Mercedes Benz, where he shot the 30-year-old man five times, including three times in the face.

    Hardwick testified she heard three to five pops, though she didn't see the shooting. Cellphone pings placed both Hardwick and Williams near the scene of the crime.

    Williams shot Johnson for “snitching.” He now faces life in prison.

    While on release, Hardwick was arrested on capias June 12, and her attorneys acknowledge she failed one drug test while on supervised release, though she was largely compliant otherwise.

    “She obviously has a drug problem and I imagine stress exacerbates that,” said Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Alex Amato, acknowledging the pressure Hardwick faced testifying against Williams. “The commonwealth is evermore thankful for the help she gave in this case.”

    Ultimately, Judge Thomas Horne sentenced Hardwick to one year time served for her role after the murder and added on an additional two years probation. She will also be required to stay sober from drugs and alcohol, complete 100 hours of community service and pay associated costs. She will also be required to complete any substance counseling and has a six month suspended driver's license.

    Hardwick told Horne she wants to volunteer at a homeless shelter and has begun looking for a job. She hopes to get her probation moved to somewhere else.

    “A new beginning,” Horne said, nodding.

    During Hardwick's time in jail, she suffered retribution for her testimony, getting punched in the face and told, “everyone's getting locked up since you got out.”

    Horne offered Hardwick some advice as he set out guidelines to help her start a new life.

    “Believe in yourself and who you are,” Horne said. “Believe in the law, but also believe in yourself.”


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