A man who is serving a 16-year prison term for the aggravated vehicular homicide of three U.S. Marine recruits in Braceville in 2010 did not file his appeal within the time allowed by law, according to a ruling by the 11th District Court of Appeals.
In the decision written by Judge Timothy P. Cannon, Donald P. Williams Jr., acting as his own attorney, missed the deadline for filing an appeal of his 2012 conviction by more than seven months.
On June 27, 2012, Williams was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison. He also lost his driver's license for the rest of his life. According to Ohio law, a defendant has 30 days from the time of the sentence being formally entered in the court record to appeal. In his appeal filed on March 27, Williams claimed he did not file in time because of advice he received from his trial attorney that there was nothing to be appealed.
In dismissing the appeal, Cannon noted that Williams "was not diligent" in protecting his rights: "His assertion that he was unaware of his right to appeal is in direct contravention to the guilty plea he signed, which indicates he was advised of his right to appeal.'"
Cannon also wrote that Williams failed to follow proper procedure when he filed the appeal.
Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice concurred in Monday's opinion, while Judge Colleen Mary O'Toole dissented without opinion.
Williams was found to have diazepam and nordiazepam in his system when the tractor-trailor he was driving plowed into the cars stopped at a traffic light on state Route 5 and Burnett Road.
A video taken during the crash from within Williams' vehicle showed he was listening to loud music and failed to break for more than 500 feet after hitting the vehicles.
A crash report by the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Williams rammed the back of the Marine recruits' vehicle, forcing it into the oncoming lanes, where it struck a pickup truck. Williams' rig then collided with two more vehicles in the oncoming lane.
The chain-reaction crash on March 31, 2010, killed Michael T. Theodore Jr., 19, of Howland; Joshua A. Sherbourne, 21, of Southington; and Zachary Nolen, 19, of Newton Falls.
The three, along with another recruit and a recruiter, were headed to Cleveland to finalize their enlistment papers.