GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — More than two years after Hutto Police Sgt. Chris Kelley was killed in the line of duty while chasing after a suspect, the man who authorities say killed him is facing a Williamson County jury.
Colby Ray Williamson’s, 29, murder trial started Monday with jury selection. Opening arguments started Tuesday morning in Judge Rick Kennon’s court. The Williamson County District Attorney’s says a grand jury decided to not pursue capital murder charges against Williamson in this case. District Attorney Shawn Dick says that’s because it doesn’t appear Williamson intentionally sought to kill a police officer.
Williamson told detectives he took control of Sgt. Kelley’s vehicle and he backed over Kelley, 37, during a struggle for the steering wheel.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials say the incident unfolded around 10 a.m. on June 24, 2015 on Herrera Trail in Hutto where a police officer tried to pull Williamson over for a traffic stop. The suspect refused to stop and led officers on a chase, according to court documents. During the pursuit, Williamson crashed his car into a fire hydrant on Herrera Trail and ran away.
Sgt. Kelley found Williamson a few minutes later at a home on Wren Cove. Williamson told detectives Sgt. Kelley approached him and told him “he was being detained and attempted to handcuff him,” according to the affidavit. Williamson said he was able to push Kelley to the ground and ran to Kelley’s vehicle and got in the driver’s seat, the affidavit continued. Kelley caught up with the suspect and was standing at the open driver’s door trying to get a handle on the steering wheel and apply pressure to the brake with his foot when Williamson put the car into reverse, knocking Kelley over, and running over Kelley, according to court documents.
Hutto Police Sgt. Conor Mitchell testified he saw the struggle as he pulled up in his patrol car. “It knocked Sgt. Kelley to the ground and the car ran over him,” explained Mitchell tearfully.
Another officer jumped out of Mitchell’s vehicle to provide emergency aid to Kelley while Mitchell continued to pursue Williamson — who was still in Kelley’s vehicle, according to the affidavit.
At the corner of Decker Drive and Creek Ledge Drive, the suspect got out of the vehicle and ran again. Hutto Police Officer Mike Moehrig testified he eventually found Williamson on Lucy Cove. “I drew down on him and I told him to get on the ground or I was going to shoot him,” said Moehrig on the stand.
Dash cam video shows Mitchell pulling about a short time later to help take Williamson into custody. That’s when Officer Moehrig learned something was seriously wrong with Sgt. Kelley. As Moehrig sobs on the video, Williamson can be heard saying, “Is he okay? I did not mean for that to happen, at all.”
You can also hear officers asking Williamson why he ran from police. Williamson says he had an invalid drivers license. After Williamson was taken to the Williamson County Jail, Moehrig said he was in disbelief. “I knew what happened [to Sgt. Kelley], I was praying for a miracle.”
Kelley was taken to Seton Medical Center Williamson, where he died a short time later.
Williamson’s former girlfriend and a friend also testified Monday, saying they smoked meth with Williamson a few hours before he hit Kelley. Williamson and his girlfriend were living at Williamson’s grandmother’s house in north Austin. His friend said he stopped by around 2 a.m. to smoke meth. Around 8 a.m. Williamson and his girlfriend drove to that same friend’s house in Hutto to help him fix his computers.
The friend testified that Williamson was interested in buying his daughter’s car. The friend said it wasn’t for sale but offered to let Williamson drive it to a nearby gas station to see what it could do. The friend said he told Williamson to ‘punch it’ on the way back to his house. Officer Moehrig saw Williamson speed by him — that’s when he flipped his patrol car around and the chase began.
Williamson faces 5 to 99 years or life in prison if convicted.