Mother of Masonique Saunders says daughter told her Julius Tate did not have a gun night he was killed


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Danielle Williams sits in her living room.

Inspirational messages hang on the wall. A half-decorated Christmas tree is to her left. Her mind though, is far from the joys of the holiday season.

"I'd just like to know what actually took place," she said. "I don't know, really. It's hard and I'm emotional."

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She's the mother of 16-year-old Masonique Saunders who was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated robbery and the murder of her 16-year-old boyfriend, Julius Tate.

A memorial marks the spot where police said Saunders was with Tate near the corner of North Champion Avenue and Mt. Vernon Avenue on December 7, when Tate allegedly held up an undercover officer at gunpoint and was shot and killed by police.

Williams said her daughter should not be charged with murder.

"I don't think that's right," she said. "They shouldn't be able to do that unless they actually physically murdered them. Unless they actually pulled the trigger and shot him. But, she didn't."

Ohio Revised Code 2903.02 says a person can be charged with murder if they cause the death of another as a proximate result of the offender's committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence that is a felony of the first or second degree.

Williams questioned why it took police six days to arrest her daughter. She believes it is because Saunders was willing to testify against Columbus Police and was going to tell a different story about what happened that night. Williams said her daughter told her after the incident that Tate did not have a gun.

"She said he didn't [have a gun]," Williams said.

Police said they recovered a weapon at the shooting scene.

Williams acknowledges her daughter's criminal history and the charges from assault to drug abuse and from theft to aggravated riot. She wants people not to jump to conclusions about her daughter's alleged involvement the night Tate died.

"You can't judge her for her past and you can't put something on her that she really didn't do," Williams said.

She said Saunders was in the process of turning her life around and was going to school and dreamed of one day being an attorney or a doctor.

"And she restored her membership back with the church again and I was so happy to see that and without my daughter I don't know what to do," Williams said. "I just want answers and I want her to be free."

She says Julius Tate lived with her and her daughter for the better part of the last year and that Saunders and Tate dated for two years.

Photo of Julius Tate Jr. provided by his family to 10TV.

Now she's worried her biggest fear will soon come true.

"I don't want them to try to charge her as an adult for something she didn't do," she said.

Williams says she'll continue to be by her daughter's side and will not give up.

"No, because I'm going to fight this case," she said. "I am going to get to the bottom of this."