Jury to decide fate of I-30 shooter

William Crunk shortly after arrest (photo by Field Walsh | TXK Today)

NEW BOSTON, Texas: Both the state and defense gave closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of a DeSoto, Texas, man who shot a fellow motorist while passing through Bowie County on his way to Arkansas.

William Calvin Crunk, 64, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Tuesday in the April 15, 2017, shooting of Forcie Wyrick but requested that his punishment be decided by a jury. Crunk was driving from his home in DeSoto to family property in Ben Lomond, Ark., when he shot Wyrick as both drove on I-30 in Bowie County. Wyrick testified he was returning to his home in Magnolia, Ark., after dropping his daughter at a Dallas airport.

After hearing a full day of testimony and closing arguments Wednesday, the jury was placed in an evening recess by 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart with instructions to return Thursday morning to deliberate on the punishment Crunk should receive. Crunk is facing two to 20 years in prison. However, if the jury sentences Crunk to 10 years or less they can recommend the term be probated.

Wyrick testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that he does not know why Crunk shot him. Wyrick said he was in the “slow lane” when he noticed a white Kia SUV pulling a flatbed utility trailer directly next to him in the left lane. Wyrick said he sped up and got ahead of the Kia but soon the Kia was next to him again. Wyrick said he at first thought Crunk was waving when he heard a loud bang.

“That’s when the car shook and I felt a pain,” Wyrick said. “I looked down and there was blood everywhere. That’s when I realized I just got shot.”

Wyrick said he followed Crunk at high speeds while speaking to 911 dispatchers beginning at about 5:30 p.m. and relaying the Kia’s location using mile markers.

“I was wondering if he was driving down the highway shooting people and I just happened to be one of them,” Wyrick testified.

Wyrick said the Kia continued on the highway until taking the 108 exit. Wyrick said the Kia nearly hit another car as it ran a stop sign and got back on the interstate. Wyrick followed Crunk for about 20 miles before law enforcement pulled Crunk over.

Wyrick was met by an ambulance at a highway truck stop and transported to a Texarkana hospital. Photographs shown to the jury showed blood in the driver’s seat of the Hyundai Sonata he was driving and a deformed bullet in the seat.

Wyrick said he believes he would have died if the .357 bullet had traveled through his window instead of through the car’s metal door, slowing it. Wyrick’s right tricep was “gouged” and photographs showed a deep purple area on Wyrick’s rib cage.

When members of the Hooks, Texas, Police Department; Bowie County Sheriff’s Office and Nash, Texas, Police Department pulled Crunk over, he ignored instructions to get out of the car, BCSO Lt. Todd Fore testified. Video from Fore’s dash camera was played for the jury.

Fore said that after getting Crunk out of the Kia, Crunk stated that he hadn’t shot anyone. Fore said Crunk didn’t say anything after being told he shot another driver.

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards, lead investigator David Biggars of the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office testified that the angle of the bullet hole in the door of the car Wyrick drove led him to conclude the cars were “side by side” when the shot was fired. Crunk declined to give a statement to law enforcement after being transported to jail.

Fore testified that Crunk never asked about Wyrick’s condition immediately after the shooting. Officer Jonathan Matlock testified that Crunk smelled strongly of alcohol and the jury saw dash cam footage which showed bottles of peach brandy recovered from inside the Kia. The .357 revolver used to shoot Wyrick was recovered from the passenger seat and a fully loaded semi-automatic 9 mm pistol was found in the glove compartment.

Under questioning from Texarkana attorney Derric McFarland, Crunk testified that Wyrick had cut him off and he was in fear for his life. Crunk said he has no prior criminal history and did possess a license to carry handguns at the time of his arrest.

Crunk said he is the main caregiver for his mentally ill wife and that he plans to retire on property his grandparents left him in Ben Lomand. McFarland called members of Crunk’s family and an old family friend to testify as to his normally non-violent character.

Texarkana, Ark., Mayor Ruth Penney Bell said she grew up in Ben Lomand and remembers Crunk from her childhood. She said she was shocked to hear of his involvement in a shooting as she had never seen him involved in fights as a youngster.

McFarland asked the jury to sentence Crunk to probation. Crisp and Richards argued that prison is a more appropriate sentence.

“His bizarre behavior put Forcie Wyrick’s life in danger, endangered the life of every motorist out there and the lives of law enforcement,” Richards argued. “What if he snaps again?”

Crisp reminded the jury of Crunk’s lack of concern for the man he fired a .357 at while driving at highway speeds.

“He didn’t even ask about him out there on the side of the road,” Crisp said. “He just baby talked his dogs.”

The jury was instructed by 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart to return to the Bowie County courthouse Thursday morning to continue deliberations.

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