New trial in Welford murder 'just opens up the wound again' - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New trial in Welford murder 'just opens up the wound again'

Brandy Williams (Photo source: WLOX) Brandy Williams (Photo source: WLOX)
A memorial sits outside the George County Courthouse honoring former Sheriff Garry Welford (Photo source: WLOX) A memorial sits outside the George County Courthouse honoring former Sheriff Garry Welford (Photo source: WLOX)
Chris Baxter (Photo source: WLOX) Chris Baxter (Photo source: WLOX)
GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

A memorial sits outside the George County Courthouse honoring former Sheriff Garry Welford, who died protecting his community on July 21, 2010.

“The whole community was affected and most of all the Welford family,” said Circuit Clerk Chad Welford.

The sheriff was setting out spikes, trying to stop a high speed chase when he was hit by the truck fleeing from deputies. Chris Baxter and his girlfriend, Brandy Williams, were inside.

Both were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole. More than two years later, Williams' conviction has just been overturned.

Chad, who is a very distant relative of the former sheriff, sat through the entire trial. He says the recent ruling is upsetting.

“You don't ever get over it. You heal from it, but this just opens up the wound again,” said Chad.

One of the reasons a new trial was ordered is because what Baxter told deputies when he was arrested wasn't allowed in the trial.

Baxter said Williams was driving, but they switched seats during the chase and he was actually driving when they hit the sheriff. He also said Williams told him to stop, but he didn't.

However, several deputies and witnesses said Williams was the driver.

“If she wasn't driving, I'm tickled to death. Losing a son myself just a couple of years ago, I feel for the family. I feel for the sheriff's family as well and his family, but if this girl wasn't driving, I don't feel she should take this much wrap on it,” said Sam McCleure.

If the ruling stands and Williams will get another trial, it will be up to a new jury to decide who was driving that day and what Williams' punishment should be.

“I have faith in the judicial system. It was disappointing, but this is the law and we abide by it,” said Chad.

Williams' attorney told WLOX News," I've talked to Brandy, and she is pleased with this development headed in the direction she wants."

"I am disappointed in the appellate court's reversal of the jury's verdict of guilt. I spoke with the Welford family and, understandably, they are concerned and disappointed," said District Attorney Tony Lawrence.

The attorney general's office has two weeks to file a re-hearing. Lawrence says he intends to.

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