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Home News-Telegram News Conviction and prison sentence handed down, despite absence of defendant

Conviction and prison sentence handed down, despite absence of defendant

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A trial against a Tennessee man concluded Tuesday with a conviction and prison sentence, despite the fact that the defendants didn’t even bother to show up all week.

While not unheard of — there have only been four or five cases in the last 20 years in district court where similar scenarios played out — it’s definitely a rarity in Hopkins County when a defendant opts not to show up for his or her own trial.

Last week’s jury selection in the Eighth Judicial District Court might have been an indicator, however.

Curtis Leo Williams showed up for jury selection in the controlled substance and marijuana possession trial, as did his court-appointed attorney, W.O. “Buddy” Loyd. Williams, however, brought a Houston attorney and announced he wanted the other man to represent him. When the Houston attorney learned the case was set for trial this week, he indicated to court officials that he would be unable to properly prepare by the court date. Loyd was subsequently retained as Williams’ attorney on the case.

The trial began Monday as scheduled. Loyd arrived but Williams failed to show up, apparently exercising his right not to have to be at the trial to defend himself.

The trial continued through 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, with Loyd and Assistant District Attorney Samantha Crouch grilling witnesses, which included Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Cleve Williams, who arrested Curtis Leo Williams in January 2007 after finding more than 20 grams of cocaine and less than 200 pounds of marijuana in a car during a traffic stop on Interstate 30.

The jury panel convicted Curtis Leo Williams of possession of a controlled substance and marijuana in less than 30 minutes, and deliberated about 1 3/4 hours before sentencing him to serve 67 years in prison for the cocaine charge and seven years on the marijuana charge.

The jury had just one request for 8th Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom during  sentencing deliberations — whether the sentences would be served consecutively or concurrently. Newsom refrained from comment on the question, telling them to use the parameters given for sentencing, but did later note that the law requires the sentences to run concurrently.

The jury panel had the option of sentencing Curtis Williams to up to 99 years or life in prison on the controlled substance charge and up to 20 years on the marijuana conviction, if they believed the information presented by officers that Williams has previously been convicted of at least two previous felony convictions.

A warrant for his arrest was issued after the jury returned the guilty verdict. Local authorities were attempting to contact officials in Tennessee Tuesday evening to try to have him located, arrested and transported back to Texas for incarceration.

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