Suzanne Williams crash: Texas troopers wanted criminally negligent homicide charge for senator
Last December, Senator Suzanne Williams was involved in a crash in Texas that killed Brianna Gomez, who was pregnant. Last month, a grand jury declined to indict Williams, who currently faces three tickets in the incident, even though a Texas Highway Patrol report on view below recommends charges of criminally negligent homicide and tampering with evidence.
The Amarillo Globe-News obtained the information, including the aforementioned report, which documents the crash that killed Gomez and injured her husband, Eric, and their two kids, Mali, six, and Eleri, 22 months. Also hurt were Williams's son, Todd, and her two grandsons, seven-year-old Tyler and three-year-old Tristan.
Troopers believe Williams, who was driving a Honda, crossed over the center line and struck the Gomez vehicle, possibly due to a lack of sleep (she'd gotten only four to six hours of shut-eye the night before, in addition to some brief backseat nap time earlier in the drive) or distraction (she was listening to Todd read a book to the grandkids). Prior to the crash, the report says Todd and Tyler were laying down in the back area of the vehicle, and Tristan was in a child-safety seat that wasn't properly secured. No wonder that when the crash occurred, Todd and Tristan were ejected from the Honda and Tyler wound up on the front dash.
Not that Williams wanted it to seem that way. According to the highway patrol, she hefted Tristan back into the car and moved Tyler from the dash to the back area of the vehicle, where he'd been earlier. Moreover, troopers say Williams initially denied that anyone had been ejected from the Honda, only later admitting the truth.
In the end, the investigators concluded that the primary contributing factor to the crash was Williams driving on the wrong side of the road, either because she was fatigued, asleep or distracted. Moreover, they deemed her conduct "reckless" -- and her "negligence resulted in the death of Brianna Gomez" and injuries to Mali, Eleri, Tyler and Tristan. They also concluded that she tampered with evidence when she moved Tristan from the roadway and Tyler from the dash -- actions about which she wasn't immediately forthcoming.
Recommended charges: criminally negligent homicide, four counts of injury to a child and tampering with physical evidence.
The grand jury disagreed. Afterward, 69th District Attorney David Green said the case fell short of negligence, which usually includes factors like "speeding, racing, failure to use brakes, ignoring construction zones or ignoring traffic signs," the Globe-News reports. But Green argued that "there's definitely civil responsibility here."
David Lane can't comment on that, or on Williams's not-guilty plea in regard to the tickets she's facing. He only represented her in regard to possible criminal conduct. However, he has strong words for the troopers who argued for serious charges.
"The lowest standard of proof in the law is probable cause, which is all they needed in the grand jury to indict her," he says. "And defense attorneys aren't allowed to argue in front of the grand jury. They're not even allowed to be there. So these disappointed cops can be very disappointed that a group of citizens who heard all the evidence, including reading this report cover to cover, couldn't even muster up probable cause."
Look below to see a Globe-News video that includes visuals and audio from the crash scene, as well as the complete highway patrol report.
More from our News archive: "Suzanne Williams: David Lane says fatal Brianna Gomez crash shouldn't be in criminal court."