CaribWorldNews, HOUSTON, TX, Mon. June 28, 2010: A Jamaican trucker who had faced death for his role in a human smuggling operation has been spared the dreaded capital punishment.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Tyrone Williams was not actually eligible for capital punishment and ordered that he be re-sentenced by the Houston federal judge who presided over his 2007 trial.
`We hold that an `act of violence` must involve the use of physical force,` the Appeals Court ruled, adding `Williams` conduct during the smuggling trip, despicable as it was, fell short of the statutory minimum to subject him to the possibility of a death sentence.
Prosecutors had sought the death sentence for Williams on 19 counts of transporting illegal immigrants. He was sentenced by a jury to life in prison without parole on those 19 counts in the failed May 2003 smuggling attempt which claimed the lives of 19 migrants.
Prosecutors said Williams never turned on the air conditioning in the airtight truck as temperatures skyrocketed. He abandoned the trailer at a truck stop near Victoria, about 100 miles southwest of Houston but was later arrested.
The U.S. attorneys` office in Houston issued a written statement saying it was reviewing the court`s decision and considering its options.