Soldier gets jail sentence for role in fatal car crash
Probation calls are rejected in favor of a five-year prison term
A 21-YEAR-OLD Army soldier was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for driving while intoxicated at excessive speeds on the H-2 freeway and causing a car crash that killed a fellow soldier.
A Circuit Court jury found Jesse F. Williams II of Virginia guilty in August of the lesser charge of first-degree negligent homicide for causing the death of Marquel Roberts, 21, the lone passenger in his car on April 5, 2003. Both were in the same unit stationed at Schofield Barracks.
Circuit Judge Steve Alm rejected the defense's request for probation and agreed with prosecutors that despite Williams' clean record and his service in Iraq, jail time was required because of the seriousness of his conduct.
"On that day, you blew nearly two times the legal limit (of 0.08 percent) and were going at least 98 mph -- in your words, 120 mph," Alm said.
First-degree negligent homicide is punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison, but Alm, after careful consideration, sentenced Williams, who was 19 at the time of the crash, as a youthful offender.
"You did kill one person; you could have killed a lot more," Alm said.
According to prosecutors, a carload of women had pulled alongside Williams' car on the H-2 as he and Roberts were headed to Waikiki. When the women took off, Williams pursued them, possibly to get a phone number, according to Deputy Prosecutor Marvin Rampey.
Williams testified at trial that he knew it was wrong to drink and drive and speed excessively, but he did it anyway, Rampey said.
Rodby called the incident an "accident," noting the jury found Williams guilty of negligence, not reckless or intentional conduct. The Army is willing to keep Williams in the Army and wants to deploy him a second time to Iraq next month, but only if he is granted probation, Rodby said.
Williams, a plumber and carpenter with the 130th Engineering Brigade, apologized for his conduct and asked the court for mercy to allow him to continue with his life and serve his country.
But Rampey said Williams continues to minimize the incident by blaming the women in the other car for egging him on.
"Marquel Roberts wanted to go to Iraq, but he can't and he is never going to get that second chance," Rampey said.