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Oct 13, 2006

Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal crash

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

NORFOLK – As Shane Williams prepared to leave the party, several people tried to stop him from driving.

Shaun Lawhorn asked for Williams’ keys. Lawhorn’s wife, Kate, the designated driver that evening, offered Williams a ride. Several people tried to give Williams their cards for Safe Ride , a Navy program that pays for cab fare.

They made the efforts because Williams had been drinking at a series of gatherings since 11 a.m., and had consumed beer, mixed drinks, gin and shots of Jagermeister. He refused their offers and left in his white Ford pickup about 11 p.m. on Feb. 24.

Just after midnight, Williams crashed head-on into a car driven by Anthony Dominic Wilson on Interstate 264. Williams was driving the wrong way, headed east in the west bound lanes. Williams told police and paramedics that he’d had two or three drinks.

Wilson, 26, died on the highway. When paramedics told Williams, he started crying.

“Oh God, help me please,” he said.

“Please forgive me. I don’t know what’s going on. Please forgive me, Lord.”

In Norfolk Circuit Court on Thursday, Williams, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary manslaughter for Wilson’s death. Wilson’s parents cried quietly in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Ron Batliner wrote the account of Williams’ activities before the wreck based on interviews with people at the parties, witnesses at the roadside, and on investigations by State Police, Norfolk Police, and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. Williams was in the Navy at the time of the crash.

Several people saw Williams driving the wrong way on I-264 before the crash. One woman called 911. Another swerved out of Williams’ way, only to see the collision in his rear-view mirror. Williams told people who had stopped to help that he had come from the HOV ramp.

The ramp was 200 yards away from the wreck, which happened near Newtown Road. Witnesses and State Police said the gates were down.

Batliner did not present evidence of Williams’ blood-alcohol concentration.

But Michael Goodove, an attorney representing Wilson’s family, said it was more than twice the legal limit considered evidence of intoxication.

Wilson was an only child, and the father of a 5-year-old boy, Goodove said.

nReach Michelle Washington at (757) 446-2287 or michelle. washington@pilotonline.com.

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Shane Williams faces a maximum of 20 years in the traffic death of Anthony Dominic Wilson. Williams’ sentencing is scheduled for January. He remains free on bond until then.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 13616275