Trucker resentenced to 34 years for deaths of 19 illegal immigrants

| 1/25/2011

The former trucker who abandoned a trailer full of illegal immigrants in 2003, resulting in the deaths of 19 men, women and children, was resentenced to 34 years in prison on Monday, Jan. 24.

On May 14, 2003, the illegal immigrants were found dead in the back of Tyrone Williams? sweltering semitrailer in Victoria, TX, -- where it?s estimated temperatures reached more than 170 degrees inside the trailer.

According to the prosecution?s original complaint, Williams told authorities he was flagged down by another trucker informing him he had a problem with his trailer. He said he pulled over at a truck stop in Victoria, went to the back of the trailer and opened the door, and saw the conditions inside.

?Williams admitted that he panicked, unhooked the trailer and drove to Houston,? the complaint said.

The refrigerated trailer sat without power in the Texas heat. Authorities were alerted to the situation by calls to 911 both from people inside the trailer and from passing motorists who saw hands waving bandannas from holes torn in the trailer.

Williams was originally convicted and sentenced in 2007 to life in prison without parole. An appeal heard by the 5th Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals contended that the judge in the original trial, not the jury, should have sentenced Williams.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal sentenced the 40-year-old Williams to a 405-month term, or nearly 34 years.

Previous coverage:

May 19, 2003 Federal charges filed against NY trucker in TX rig deaths
Aug. 3, 2005 Suit filed, trial dates set in Texas trailer deaths
Oct. 23, 2006 Human cargo smuggler's attorney points to another as real culprit
Nov. 3, 2006 Woman says Tyrone Williams was 'indifferent' to trailer deaths
Dec. 4, 2006 Tyrone Williams convicted for smuggling-related deaths