JO - Appeals court orders new trial for Jamaican driver in the US
Appeals court orders new trial for Jamaican driver in the US
Friday, May 12, 2006
GILMORE... the 5th Circuit panel ruled that she be removed from the case because of its extraordinary history and her prior complaints about a busy docket
HOUSTON (AP) - A Jamaican truck driver convicted in a deadly human smuggling attempt will be retried and could face the death penalty after a federal appeals court sided with prosecutors' complaints of how the jury reached its verdict.
Tyrone Williams, who lived in upstate New York, was convicted last year in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants crammed into his airtight tractor-trailer. More than 70 immigrants inside his stifling truck screamed and clawed at the walls before he abandoned them 100 miles (160 kilometres) southwest of Houston.
Williams was spared the death penalty because the jury could not agree before sentencing on whether he bears direct responsibility for the deaths.
But a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that in order for a jury to reach a correct verdict, those questions must be answered.
"We conclude that the jury failed to convict Williams of any offense," US Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote.Williams' attorney said he would appeal to the Supreme Court.
The 5th Circuit panel also ruled that US District Judge Vanessa Gilmore be removed from the case because of its "extraordinary history" and the judge's prior complaints about a busy docket. A new trial will be scheduled once a new judge is chosen.
The 2003 journey from the Mexico border was the deadliest human smuggling attempt in US history.Williams is the only one of 14 indicted in the case who faces the death penalty.
Last week, Karla Patricia Chavez Joya was convicted of leading the operation and sentenced to 17 years in prison.