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Man sentenced to life in prison for killing Hutto police sergeant

The sentencing phase for the man convicted of killing a Hutto police sergeant began Monday morning.

GEORGETOWN, Texas – The man convicted of running over and killing a Hutto police sergeant in 2015 will serve a life sentence in prison.

For a fourth day, Colby Ray Williamson sat in the 368th State District Court and listened to testimony, this time for his punishment phase. While he could've received anywhere from five to 99 years in prison. The state asked for life, and the jury ruled in their favor Monday afternoon. Williamson will also be fined $10,000.

Colby Ray Williamson was convicted on Nov. 9 in the killing of Sgt. Chris Kelley on June 24, 2015. It took the jury about three hours to find him guilty of murder. The state did not seek the death penalty because Williamson County District Attorney, Shawn Dick, has said this case does not rise to that level of intent, meaning they could not prove that Williamson knowingly killed Sgt. Kelley because he was a police officer.

Sgt. Kelley's family and friends sat in the first and second rows, wearing matching blue and black outfits in support of Sgt. Kelley and seeking his justice.

Hutto police Sgt. Paul Leal was the first witness to take the stand. He told jurors about how he saw Sgt. Kelley fighting with Williamson in Kelley's patrol car. Williamson was trying to steal the car when he took control and eventually ran the officer over -- killing him.

Sgt. Leal described in graphic detail about how he desperately tried to save Kelley's life but blood was coming out of his ears and mouth like "a water hose" and he couldn't stop the bleeding. Leal said, "you couldn't even see his teeth" there was so much blood. All he said he could do was turn Kelley's body over to drain the blood from his mouth so Kelley could try to breathe.

Sgt. Leal also told the jury that after Kelley passed away, he hasn't been able to sleep well and that he has been diagnosed with PTSD.

Corporal Chris Vela with the University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) was the second state witness. He described himself as Sgt. Kelley's best friend. Vela told the jury that he worked with Kelley at the UTPD until 2008 when Sgt. Kelley went to work at the Hutto police department. He said he eventually went to work at Hutto PD after Kelley recruited him.

Vela told jurors that he texted Kelley more than his own wife and that the two had a "weird bromance" which garnered light chuckling from the courtroom.

The tone quickly turned serious again when he told jurors that he didn't want to testify in this trial and that he would rather be curled up in a ball -- the loss of his best friend too devastating. But Vela also didn't want his best friend's name to be forgotten. Vela didn't want Kelley's many good deeds to be forgotten. His contributions to the community to be forgotten. So he decided to be here.

Jack Kelley was the state's third witness. Sgt. Kelley's father got on the stand and talked about his long career in law enforcement and how early on his only son decided he too would follow in his father's footstep. Mr. Kelley told the jury how his young son was extremely intelligent and how when he made up his mind, he made up his mind. He described a series of pictures for the jury from when his son was in the Air Force to family pictures that included his grandchildren.

Mr. Kelley became emotional when the prosecutor asked him to describe what his son's loss meant to him.

"He was better than me," Kelley said. "In the end, he was my rock."

"A darkness descended that day...all the king's horses and all the king's men can't put this family back together again," he told jurors.

Michele Kelley was the state's last witness. She told jurors about how she met her future husband in Saudi Arabia while they were both in the Air Force.

Their relationship started as friends but 9/11 brought them together. Michele and Chris got married in 2006 and had their first baby in 2007, Mackenzie. In 2011, Michele gave birth to their son, Nate.

She told jurors how they both had always wanted to be parents, and how Chris was a hands-on dad.

Kelley also testified how hard life was when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan when she had to take care of two children by herself.

Testimony took an emotional turn once again when she described how she learned of Kelley's death. She tearfully told the jury how she kept texting her husband that day.

"Just tell me you're ok," she texted over and over again with no reply.

Eventually, the Chief of the Hutto police department showed up at her work and informed her.

Kelley then told the jury about life after her husband's death. She and her children go to see a counselor every week but her son is still angry because he only got four short years with his father. Her daughter struggles too because no one can substitute for the father-daughter dance.

Kelley said the community has been amazing, but still, life remains hard because she wants to pick up the phone and call her husband. She has lost her best friend.

The defense called only one witness.

Jennifer Herrin testified that she has known Williamson for five and a half years and has a three-year-old son with the defendant. Herrin also said she has never met any man as caring as he is.

Closing statements were short.

The defense told the jury its duty was to be fair and leave emotion out of its deliberations. The defense attorney said if the punishment was determined by suffering, then this is an exercise in futility. The defense said the jury must decide punishment based on what happened that day, which was a senseless act.

The prosecution agreed and said it was a senseless act, but they said Williamson would still be around to hug his family while the Kelley family would never be the same again.


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KVUE's Jenni Lee covered Williamson's trial. No phones were allowed in the courtroom. KVUE's Nicole Rosales live tweeted updates from outside the courtroom while watching proceedings through a video feed.

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