The relatives of Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelley aimed their grief and anger directly at Colby Williamson on Monday, just moments after he was given a life sentence for running over and killing Kelley with his own patrol car in 2015.
“You murdered my son,” Jack Kelley told Williamson in the courtroom during the time victims are given to speak to a defendant after sentencing.
“You ran over him and left him lying in the street like a stray dog,” Jack Kelley said. “I watched you during this trial, and I saw no remorse, no sorrow, no eye contact with anyone in this family. Instead, you chose to shirk responsibility and put up a smoke screen of a defense.”
Williamson was high on methamphetamine on June 24, 2015, when a police officer tried to stop him for speeding, witnesses and prosecutors said during the trial. He sped away but crashed before fleeing on foot. Kelley found Williamson a short time later and tried to handcuff him, but Williamson flipped the sergeant over onto his back and ran to Kelley’s still-running unmarked patrol car. Williamson and Kelley struggled inside Kelley’s car with the door open until Williamson put the vehicle in reverse and Kelley was struck by the door and fell. Williamson then ran over Kelley’s head, prosecutors said.
Michele Kelley, Chris Kelley’s wife, told Williamson: “You completely disgust me. You must know I am stronger than ever and you cannot and will not ever break me. My God is mightier than you will ever be and with him I will fight.”
She and Chris Kelley’s parents and sister said they would never forgive Williamson and would fight to make sure he was never paroled.
Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, Williamson’s grandfather, C.R. Williamson, said that “my grandson didn’t mean to do that.”
“It was an accident, and everybody knows that,” he said. “Hopefully one day they will see in their hearts to forgive because they should.”
Williamson was convicted Thursday of murder. The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half Monday before sentencing him to life in prison.
He will be eligible for parole in about 27½ years because he will get credit for good time served, said Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick.
Michele Kelley spoke to reporters with her father outside the courtroom after the sentencing. When asked what she thought about Williamson’s grandfather asking for forgiveness, she said: “I don’t foresee it. … When you take someone’s life, that’s a big thing.”
She said she was grateful for the life sentence because it showed that the community and the jury knew how much her husband’s life mattered. Before the sentencing, she had testified Monday that Chris Kelley was a devoted husband and loving father who spent as much time with his young daughter and son as possible, cooked for the family and always supported her.
“When the kids scream out every single night about how much they miss their dad, I don’t know what to do with them because I miss him just as much,” she said while crying. “As much as I hurt, I hurt 100 times more for my babies because I know all the milestones Chris is going to miss with them.”
Prosecutors and the defense did not comment after the sentencing.
Defense lawyer Joe James Sawyer said in his closing argument before the sentencing that what Williamson did was unintentional and that the evidence in the case was incomplete. He also said, as he did throughout the trial, that Williamson was not responsible for Kelley’s fatal head injuries because he did not run over his head.
Prosecutor Dee McWilliams said during closing arguments that Williamson “stole Chris Kelley from his family, from his children, from officers, from this community.”
“What was stolen was the best,” McWilliams said.