BATON ROUGE, La. - The Bottoms brothers are not your typical twins.
The Louisiana brothers, 29, have extensive criminal histories that, for Lawrence “Dragon” Bottoms, ended in his death in April at the hands of Mississippi lawmen trying to serve a high-risk warrant.
William Bottoms Jr., of Greenwell Springs, is on trial this week on two counts of second-degree murder, crimes for which he faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted. He is accused of killing Dedrick Dewayne Williams, 23, and Mohamed Sead Hussain, 29, in June 2017.
The Advocate in Baton Rouge reported that William Bottoms’ defense attorney, Jarvis Antwine, finds himself in the unusual position of trying to seat a jury that can look past his client’s face full of tattoos and see the person behind them.
“That’s the first thing you see with him,” Antwine told prospective jurors.
Most of the panel told the lawyer they had no problem with the tattoos. One woman said she doesn’t care for body ink, but that her opinion would not influence her judgment of Bottoms, the Advocate reported.
“It’s a personal choice,” a man said.
According to the newspaper, Williams and Hussain were found shot to death June 1, 2017, in the back seat of a car abandoned in rural St. Helena Parish. The men had each been shot multiple times in the head and their bodies were covered with a sheet.
Investigators determined that the car in which the men were found had run out of gas around 1:30 a.m. that day in Pride, a small unincorporated community in East Baton Rouge Parish. A deputy stopped to help the stranded motorists, who included Bottoms, Williams, Hussein and Bottoms’ girlfriend, Megan Marie Gaylord.
The interaction between them and the deputy was caught on his patrol car’s dashboard camera, according to the Advocate.
Sometime after that interaction, Williams and Hussain were killed. A crew from an electric company found the men dead in the car, which was parked along the Amite River, later in the day, the Advocate reported.
Bottoms and Gaylord were arrested about three weeks later in connection with the slayings.
The newspaper said Gaylord initially denied being present when the men were killed, but she later admitted she was driving the car when the shooting took place.
According to investigators, Gaylord said the group had used drugs, at which point Bottoms, who was in the front passenger seat, became paranoid, the Advocate reported. He shot the men as they sat in the back seat.
An arrest report obtained by the paper indicated that after Williams and Hussein were killed, Gaylord drove to Bottoms’ home, where he got bleach and a bedsheet. The bleach was used to destroy evidence and the sheet, to cover the men’s bodies.
Gaylord, 29, of Greenwell Springs, was initially charged as an accessory after the fact, but the charges were dismissed last year by the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, the Advocate said. She is expected to be a key witness at Bottoms’ trial.
At the time of the double homicide, Bottoms had been out of prison just two months after serving time for a heroin conviction, the newspaper said.
WAFB in Baton Rouge reported that Bottoms has spent most of his adult life in prison and had been arrested at least three times in the decade prior to the slayings. At 17, he was arrested for armed robbery and aggravated battery.
In 2014, he was charged with aggravated assault and drug charges, WAFB said. He was sentenced to seven years in prison but was released early for good behavior.
Dedrick Williams’ mother, Cassandra Williams, told the news station in 2017 that the justice system failed her son and Hussain.
Bottoms “never deserved to be out. He’s an animal and he deserves to be in jail,” Williams told WAFB. “I’m praying to God he don’t get the death penalty because death is too good for him.”
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case.
Lawrence Bottoms, like his brother, had seen the inside of a jail cell before.
The Sun Herald in Gulfport reported in August 2017, two months after his brother’s arrest for murder, that Lawrence Bottoms had been arrested on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Also like his brother, he was heavily tattooed on his face. He had devil’s horns -- nearly identical to a set on his twin’s head -- and the word “cutthroat” on his neck.
At the time of his weapons arrest in Waveland, Lawrence Bottoms had been recently convicted in Louisiana’s Livingston Parish for stabbing a teenager with a screwdriver in April 2015. According to the Sun Herald, Bottoms pleaded guilty to stabbing the 17-year-old victim multiple times in the face.
The victim, Cody Hoyt, died about five months later, the Advocate reported. The cause of Hoyt’s death was unclear at the time, but Bottoms' charges in the stabbing were never upgraded, so it appeared to be unrelated to the attack.
Bottoms was charged with attempted second-degree murder in the attack on Hoyt but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated battery, court records showed. Sentenced to two years, he received credit for the time he’d already served on the charges.
Lawrence Bottoms’ criminal history also included a 2009 conviction on charges of robbery and battery, for which he served five years of a seven-year prison sentence.
Following his arrest in the screwdriver stabbing, deputies found a Kevlar throat protector and two guns with altered serial numbers in a car in which he traveling, the Sun Herald said. The disposition in that case was not immediately available.
Hancock Sheriff Ricky Adam said suspect Lawrence Bottoms jumped out of one of the windows in the back of this house on Neshoba Street before he drew a weapon on deputies and was shot and killed. @WLOX @newsgirlalison pic.twitter.com/B61BIlEeko— John Fitzhugh (@JFitzhughWLOX) April 29, 2019
Lawrence Bottoms’ final interaction with law enforcement came April 29, when Hancock County sheriff’s deputies went to a home in Bayside Park and tried to serve him with a felony warrant out of East Baton Rouge Parish. According to WLOX in Biloxi, Mississippi authorities had information that Bottoms was being hidden in the home, from which drugs were also being sold.
Bottoms, who was on parole in Mississippi, jumped out of a second-floor window after deputies used tear gas to drive him from the duplex, WLOX reported. He led deputies on a foot chase, during which they said he turned and pointed a 9 mm handgun at them.
A deputy fired at Bottoms, killing him, the news station said.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation stepped in to investigate the officer-involved shooting. The status of that probe was not available Tuesday.