Raw grief surfaced at a trial Wednesday afternoon when the mother of slain Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelley talked about the “unimaginable horror” of seeing his body. The emotional testimony came after attorneys had argued about whether Kelley was killed by a fall or had his head crushed by a car.
It was the second day of the trial of Colby Williamson, who is accused of running over and killing Kelley, 38, with the officer’s patrol car on June 24, 2015. Williamson, 29, is charged with first-degree murder and faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Kelley’s mother, Barbara Kelley, testified Wednesday that she was at her job at the Texas Department of Public Safety the day her son died. She said she was eating lunch when she received a text message from her husband that said, “Come home. Our son was killed this morning. If you can’t drive I will come get you.”
Barbara Kelley said she started screaming when she read the message and a director from work drove her to Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock.
“We walked into this little room,” she said. “My family was there. … Chris was there laying on a gurney. It was the most unimaginable horror you could ever see.”
She said she could see a bloody towel stuck behind Chris Kelley’s head and his “beautiful face.”
Assistant District Attorney Danny Smith told Barbara Kelley he was going to show her a picture of her son from the sergeant’s autopsy.
“Is this Christopher?” Smith asked as he walked up to her at the witness stand and flashed a photo at her. “Yes,” she screamed.
Prosecutors have said since the trial began that Chris Kelley’s skull was crushed when Williamson ran over him with the sergeant’s unmarked patrol car. Defense attorney Joe James Sawyer has said Kelley died when he hit his head on the pavement during a struggle with Williamson and then Williamson ran over Kelley’s leg.
They continued the disagreement Wednesday during testimony by Travis County Deputy Medical Examiner Kendall Crowns. One of the skull fractures Kelley received went from one side of his head to the other — a type of fracture associated with high-speed car crashes or a fall from a great height, Crowns said. He said the sergeant’s injuries were so severe that he probably only had seconds to live after he received them.
Smith asked Crowns if the skull fractures were consistent with the injuries a person would receive from being run over by a car. “Yes,” Crowns said.
Sawyer challenged Crowns, saying a wedge-shaped abrasion on Kelley’s forehead could have come from being hit with the corner of a driver’s door.
“I’m not sure,” Crowns said. “You would have to show me what the driver’s side door looked like.”
Sawyer said an eyewitness had a vivid memory of just seeing the sergeant’s legs come out from underneath the vehicle after he fell, indicating that the car didn’t run over his head.
“You think a car ran over his head,” Sawyer said to Crowns.
“I feel a car passed over his forehead,” said Crowns.
Smith then asked Crowns if the head injuries the sergeant received were caused by the sergeant — who was 5 feet 9 inches tall — just falling to the ground.
Crowns disagreed, saying “they are consistent with a fall from 30 to 40 feet.”
One of Kelley’s colleagues, Lt. Dwain Jones, also testified Wednesday, choking back tears as he testified about arriving at the scene where fellow officer Paul Leal was giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Kelley right after the sergeant was hit.
A video shown in court from Jones’ patrol car shows Jones and Leal doing chest compressions on Kelley as an emotional Leal yelled, “C’mon Kelley, c’mon Kelley, fight Kelley, breathe.”