The truck driver in the nation's deadliest human smuggling attempt was sentenced to lengthy prison terms for conspiracy and transporting illegal immigrants Thursday, to be carried out concurrently with the life sentence he's already serving.
Tyrone Williams had been convicted in December on 58 counts of conspiracy, harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, and a jury that could have given him the death penalty instead imposed a life sentence. Two more sentences were added by the judge Thursday — 33 years and nine months on a conspiracy charge, and 20 years on 19 counts of transporting illegal immigrants.
Williams, 36, drove a sweltering tractor-trailer in May 2003 during a smuggling attempt from South Texas to Houston that resulted in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants.
He declined to comment after the sentence was issued by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal.
Because 20 of the original counts he was convicted of were death penalty eligible, a jury had to decide whether to condemn Williams to die. After just over five days of deliberations in January, the jury spared Williams, sentencing him to life in prison for 19 transporting counts and deciding to let Rosenthal sentence him on a conspiracy count.
Before handing down the sentence, Rosenthal granted a motion by prosecutors to dismiss 19 counts of harboring immigrants that the jury had convicted Williams of. Prosecutors said these counts were dropped because they essentially duplicated the transporting charges in the case.