Manslaughter plea in 2010 shooting death

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A week before his murder trial wasscheduled to begin, Tye Williams pleaded guilty to the reducedcharge of manslaughter Tuesday in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

    Williams was charged in connection to the Oct. 24, 2010, gunshotdeath of 16-year-old Bryant Holloway.

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    Williams, now 17, was also 16 at the time of the incident, whichoccurred on Short Street. Williams, of 632 North Sixth St., turnedhimself in to police on the night of the shooting.

    “I’m sorry for what I did,” Williams said in his lone statementbefore sentencing Tuesday.

    Public defender Jason Tate, Williams’ attorney, added to Williams’statement.

    “He (Williams) is not a public speaker. He is nervous,” Tate said.”But he has expressed to me that he is sorry for what he did andwishes he could take it back. If he could, he would.”

    Judge David Strong accepted the prosecution’s recommendation andsentenced Williams to serve 15 years in prison with the last fivesuspended and to pay $5,000 in fines.

    Williams appeared nervous throughout the proceedings and spokesoftly in response to questions by Strong who instructed Williamsto speak louder multiple times.

    When first asked how he wished to plea to the manslaughter charge,Williams hesitated and then turned to his lawyer Tate. The two leftthe courtroom briefly. The courtroom waited in silence.

    When Tate and Williams returned, Williams finally said,”guilty.”

    Williams and Holloway were classmates at Brookhaven High School andreported by Holloway’s family to have been longtime friends.

    District Attorney Dee Bates explained the state’s understanding ofthe facts at Tuesday’s hearing.

    According to Bates, three separate altercations occurred betweenHolloway and Williams on the day of Holloway’s death.

    At the final and fatal confrontation, witnesses stated Hollowaytried to “pick a fight” with Williams and followed Williams up astreet with a bat, Bates said.

    Witnesses further stated Williams threatened to shoot Holloway andthen at a certain point did turn and shot Holloway in the head.

    However, all but one of the witnesses agreed that Holloway neverhit Williams with the bat. Bates said when Williams turned himselfin to police after the incident Williams himself stated Hollowaynever hit him with the bat and had no marks on his body.

    “We believe it is imperfect self defense,” Bates said. “Williamscould have left the scene. What he did was not the only way he hadto defend himself.”

    In a March 3 arraignment, Williams pleaded not guilty to thecharge, seemingly sending the case to trial. Bates said the offerto accept a manslaughter plea had been on the table for a while,but he did not find out until Monday that Williams would take thedeal rather than continue on to trial.

    Sandra Johns, Holloway’s aunt, spoke before sentencing.

    “I want to know what was so bad they couldn’t talk to the grownpeople,” Johns said in tears.

    After the hearing, Bates described the youth of all involved as aparticularly distressing element of the case.

    “The victim and Williams were both 16 at the time. My witnesseswere 14, 15,” Bates said. “It’s a tragic situation.”