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Prosecutors challenge truth of memo in crash killing 4 Marines

Published: Sat, June 23, 2012 @ 12:03 a.m.

By Ed Runyan



An assistant Trumbull County prosecutor has asked Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for a hearing Monday to talk about what he believes are inaccuracies in the sentencing memorandum for former truck driver Donald P. Williams Jr.

Williams, 46, of Austintown, is set to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the deaths of three Marine Corps recruits in an accident on the state Route 5 Bypass just west of Warren on March 31, 2010.

Mike Burnett, assistant prosecutor, said in a filing Thursday that it appears that the sentencing memorandum Atty. J. Gerald Ingram filed with the court last week contains several inaccurate statements.

For example, the memorandum says Williams’ mother went to prison for robbery when Williams was very young and that his father was unable to care for him because he suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of serving in Vietnam.

Burnett, upon learning that Williams’ mother was disputing these claims in an interview with a reporter for television station WKBN, asked Gary Hetzel, an investigator with the prosecutor’s office, to check into it.

Hetzel “confirmed that she has never been arrested for, or convicted of robbery and has never been to prison,” Burnett said.

Williams’ mother also told the reporter and Hetzel that Williams’ father was in the military but was stationed in Florida during the war and never served overseas.

Hetzel is still researching these and other claims, Burnett said.

Ingram did not return a phone call seeking a comment Friday.

“It is the position of the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office that a false presentation of facts concerning his family background to presumably gain some sympathy in sentencing is a serious, if not criminal matter,” Burnett said.

Burnett said he is assessing whether any facts obtained at this point should be used to amend the state’s recommendation on sentencing for Williams.

The prosecutor’s office recommended that Williams serve 18 years in prison. Ingram recommended 61/2 years.

Williams pleaded guilty earlier to three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, three counts of aggravated vehicular assault, three counts of vehicular assault, and one count of drug possession.

As of Friday morning, Judge Logan had not scheduled a hearing on the matter.

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