Driver seeks late appeal

WARREN – A prosecutor argues that ”ignorance of the law is no excuse” when it comes to a jailhouse request for an appeal on a 16-year prison sentence by a trucker who killed three U.S. Marine Corps recruits in a seven-car pileup three years ago.

”We have victims here and they want closure. Somebody has to stand up for them,” said assistant county prosecutor LuWayne Annos, who responded to the late request for an appeal by Donald Williams, 47, who is in Lake Erie Correctional Institution.

He was sentenced in June 2012. His driver’s license was suspended for life.

Annos, who handles appellate cases for the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office, told the 11th District Court of Appeals last week that there is ”no legally valid reason justifying his (Williams’) tardiness in filing a notice of appeal on a 2012 conviction.”

Annos pointed out that not only is Williams more than seven months late in filing a notice of appeal, but the notification doesn’t even state any grounds for the appeal. She wants the court to throw out the request or refuse leave to file the delayed appeal.

Williams faced a possible 31 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, three counts of aggravated vehicular assault, three counts of vehicular assault and drug possession. Prosecutors asked for 18 years, and Williams’ defense attorney J. Gerald Ingram had asked for 6 1/2 years.

At one point in Williams’ memorandum of support, he blames Ingram for advising him that there were no valid grounds for appeals.

”My attorney advised me that ‘we are not going to appeal because there is nothing to appeal.’ He convinced me to plead guilty or face a longer sentence of imprisonment. I would have appealed had I known I had the right to even though I pleaded guilty, but I trusted my lawyer and took his advice, which I now see was, or am convinced was, wrong,” Williams states in his filing.