Texas trailer deaths case in jury's hands

| 11/28/2006

In Houston, a jury of seven women and five men were scheduled to continue deliberations Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the case of former trucker Tyrone Williams.

Williams faces a possible death penalty for his role in a smuggling operation that resulted in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants who were left in the over-heated trailer of his truck in 2003.

He's the first person federal prosecutors have targeted for the death penalty using a 1994 law that allows a death sentence if an illegal immigrant dies during a smuggling attempt.

Williams' attorney contends that law is unconstitutional because it doesn't require a jury to find that the defendant intended to harm or kill anyone.

The case went to the jury Monday.

Williams, 35, is a Jamaican citizen who lived in Schenectady, NY, and is the only one of the 14 people charged in the case who is facing the death penalty.

According to the Houston Chronicle, so far seven people have been sentenced to prison in the case. Sentencing for three others is pending. Charges against two were dismissed, and one man remains a fugitive.