Repeat DWI offender pleads not guilty to murder
A 67-year-old Ashdown, Ark., man with multiple drunk driving convictions entered pleas of not guilty Wednesday to two counts of murder in connection with a fatal single-car crash earlier this year.
Isiah Williams appeared Wednesday afternoon before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart with Public Defender Deborah Moore. Moore entered pleas of not guilty on Williams’ behalf to two murder charges and one charge of felony DWI. Lockhart scheduled Williams to return to court for a pretrial hearing Nov. 6.
Williams allegedly had a blood alcohol of .216, nearly three times the legal limit of .08, when he veered off of Interstate 30 near the 186 mile marker Feb. 2. It was just after 5 p.m. when Williams’ pickup traveled across a grassy area and a ditch before crossing the south service road and hitting a tree.
Both Williams’ front and rear passengers, Jimmie Gant, 62, of Ashdown and Kathy Brown, 59, of Texarkana, Texas, died of injuries received in the wreck. Williams was transported via helicopter to St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana for treatment.
“Williams later stated the rear passenger was intoxicated and became angry, leaning forward grabbing the steering wheel,” a probable cause affidavit states. “The speedometer was locked on 63 miles per hour and the driver stated that he had the cruise control set on 65 miles per hour.”
The affidavit alleges there was no evidence that Williams attempted to use his brakes before hitting the tree.
Williams had been convicted of DWI at least five times before the fatal crash. Records show Williams pleaded guilty to DWI, fourth offense, in July 2014 and received a four-year term in Miller County. Records show Williams had three arrests for DWI in 2012 alone.
A Bowie County grand jury indicted Williams in June for two counts of murder and for felony DWI. If convicted of murder, Williams faces five to 99 years or life in prison. Felony DWI is punishable by two to 10 years. Williams is being held in the Bowie County jail.