Decision due on moving teen’s murder case to juvenile court – Girl accused of killing father — (Benton Courier)

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Benton Courier

Friday, May 28, 2004 11:14 AM CDT

By Jillian Fry, Courier Staff

Sixteen-year-old Amy Williams, who is charged with capital murder in the July 30 death of her father, James Craig Williams, was tearful and appeared anxious in a hearing Wednesday. The defense, represented by Joe Kelly Hardin and Richard Mattison, contended that she is not violent, is capable of rehabilitation, and therefore the case should be transferred to juvenile court.

Circuit Judge Gary Arnold will rule on the transfer request by the end of this week, he said.

Amy William’s mother, Gwen Williams, testified on her behalf, saying Amy was “best friends with her father.” Because of truancy and behavioral problems, she said, Amy Williams was admitted to Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Hospital in Little Rock where Dr. Gary Hogan prescribed her Prozac.

She said her daughter was not “herself” after her father’s death. “She was hysterical and looked star-gazy.”

Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld, representing the state, established through Gwen Williams’ testimony that her daughter was having trouble in school before the incident and that she was dishonest and argumentative.

Gwen Williams also said her daughter would occasionally slam doors and was involved in a couple of fights at school in Bryant.

Both parents had custody of Amy Williams after their divorce. Because of their daughter’s “problems,” Gwen Williams said, she asked Amy’s father to take care of her.

In his testimony, Saline County Detective Randy Gibbons, who interviewed the girl during the investigation, said Amy Williams showed no remorse or concern for her father when he talked with her.

However, during her arraignment, Gibbons said, she was crying and seemed upset.

Carol Chiles of the Saline County Juvenile Court told deputy prosecutor Rebecca Bush that Amy Williams was offered acute and long-term care at Pinnacle Pointe Hospital. In June 2003, Hogan wrote a letter to the court advising that Amy Williams continue outpatient therapy, Chiles said.

Scott Tanner, a juvenile ombudsman with the Arkansas Public Defender’s Commission and individual client advocate with the Department of Youth Services, said he “holds out hope” for juveniles and that juvenile services can be beneficial.

He said with the natural maturation of Amy Williams and the clinical services DYS provides, she could enter the community again and be successful.

Whether Amy Williams likely would be rehabilitated, Tanner said he could not testify. He said he has seen juveniles go through the rehabilitation program until they are 21, and some are successful while others are not. One female, he said, killed her father and successfully went through the program.

Gibbons, testifying for the state, described the homicide scene. He said when he entered the home in Alexander, he saw James Craig Williams lying in the floor, and it appeared he had been “shot to death.”

During the interview, Gibbons said, Amy Williams, told a false story about there being another man at the house buying a gun before her father’s death. She said she had taken a practice round with her dad’s deer rifle, Gibbons said, that afternoon while her dad was at work.

Gibbons answered in the affirmative when Herzfeld asked if James Craig Williams’ death was a violent and premeditated crime.