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James Miller avoids murder conviction, but found guilty of lesser charge

BREAKING: Jury finds Colby Williamson guilty in Hutto sergeant’s death


Defense attorney said in his closing argument that the officer’s head was not run over by a car.

Prosecutor Danny Smith said that Chris Kelley’s injuries show the sergeant’s head was crushed by a car.

3:15 p.m. update: A Williamson County jury found Colby Williamson guilty in the 2015 death of Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelley after deliberating for about three hours Thursday. The punishment phase of the trial will begin Monday.

Williamson faces up to 99 year in prison.

When District Judge Rick Kennon read the verdict Thursday afternoon, the courtroom was packed with more than 70 people. Williamson stood silently after the verdict was read.

Paul Leal, who was a Hutto police officer when he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Kelley shortly after the sergeant was run over, stood quietly in the courtroom with tears in his eyes after hearing the guilty verdict. He declined to comment, as did Kelley’s family.

Outside the courtroom, Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick declined to discuss the verdict or the length of the sentence prosecutors will seek for Williamson.

When asked how Kelley’s family was doing he said, “You saw them in court.”

“This is obviously a very emotional moment for them. We are glad we got this part done. We are looking forward to presenting our case Monday and hopefully completing the justice Sgt. Kelley has been waiting for.”

2:30 p.m. update : A Williamson County jury has found Colby Williamson guilty in the 2015 death of Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelly.

11:50 a.m. update: A jury has begun deliberating whether or not to find Colby Williamson guilty of murder in the death of Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelley in 2015.

Williamson has been accused of running over and crushing Kelley’s head with the officer’s own patrol car.

Defense attorney Joe James Sawyer had argued throughout the trial that Williamson was behaving irrationally because everything happened so fast and what he did was unintentional. Sawyer has also said Kelley received his fatal head injuries when he was knocked to the ground and hit his head while struggling with Williamson.

Sawyer continued to present that point of view during his closing arguments Thursday morning, saying Williamson only ran over the sergeant’s leg.

RELATED: Mother of slain officers gives emotional testimony

Sawyer said prosecutors never called a Texas Ranger involved in the investigation, Cody Mitchell, to testify. If Mitchell had testified, someone could have asked him if a DNA test was done on the tires of Kelley’s car, Sawyer said.

If Mitchell had testified he could have been asked if a test had been done to see how fast Kelley’s patrol car was going when it hit him and when he fell down, Sawyer said. The defense attorney also said a deputy medical examiner who testified did not even know an eyewitness had said he could only see Kelley’s legs coming out from underneath the car when the officer was run over, and that he never saw Kelley’s entire body under the vehicle.

RELATED: Trial to begin for man accused of killing Hutto officer with car

Prosecutor Danny Smith said during his closing argument that DNA didn’t have anything to do with what happened because eyewitnesses, including Hutto Sgt. Conor Mitchell, saw what happened when Kelley was killed and it also was captured on video from a police patrol car.

One of the multiple skull fractures Kelley received was so severe that the sergeant could not have gotten it just from falling and hitting his head on the ground, Smith said. “Kelley was killed by his own car; his head was crushed,” Smith said.

Prosecutor Dee McWilliams said in closing arguments that the defense was claiming what happened was unintentional because Williamson was high on drugs, panicked and irrational because everything happened so fast.

But when Williamson initially decided to flee just because a police officer caught him speeding he was not fleeing for his life and could have stopped at any time, McWilliams said. The prosecutor said Williamson made a “constant cascade of awful decisions.”

He also said even if Williamson had panicked and just run over Kelley’s leg instead of his head Williamson would still be guilty of murder. According to the law a murder is committed if a person in the act of committing a felony commits another act dangerous to human life and kills someone, McWilliams said.

Williamson committed a felony by stealing Kelley’s car and driving it over or onto Kelley, McWilliams said. Whether or not Kelley’s head was crushed by the car or he died after hitting his head on the ground when he fell doesn’t matter because Williamason committed an act dangerous to human life, McWilliams said. “This is a textbook example of felony murder,” he said.

Earlier: Lawyers will give closing arguments Thursday morning in the trial of a man accused of killing Hutto police Sgt. Chris Kelley by running over him with the sergeant’s own patrol car in 2015.

Prosecutors announced Thursday morning they have no more witnesses. The defense then rested its case without presenting a witness.

Colby Williamson 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. His trial started Tuesday.

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