ESCONDIDO — A 45-year-old man was convicted April 29 of charges relating to a brutal attack on his now ex-wife nearly two years ago.
Jurors deliberated for less than 10 hours before returning guilty verdicts on all six counts in Tommy Lee Williams’ case. The panel of six men and six women found Williams guilty of attempted murder, torture, false imprisonment, threatening crimes to cause serious injury or death, inflicting corporal injury to a spouse and violating a court protective order.
The charges stem from the Oct. 27, 2007, attack on Williams’ wife, Jeannette Lawrence, in her Escondido apartment.
Additionally, the jury found true Williams used at least one weapon during the attack; however, the panel didn’t find true the allegation that the attempted murder was pre-mediated.
When Williams is sentenced May 29, he faces up to life in prison due to the torture charge, Deputy District Attorney Marnie McGee said following the trial.
Throughout the trial, McGee argued that Williams’ attack on Lawrence stemmed from her filing for a divorce.
In her closing argument, McGee told jurors Williams had wanted to control every aspect of Lawrence’s life and her filing for a divorce was the ultimate blow to him. McGee said the attack was planned to be a murder-suicide.
During the attack, McGee said it was evident from Lawrence’s injuries and testimony that Williams didn’t just want to kill his wife, he wanted to make her pay and the best way to do that was to torture her like a cat playing with a mouse. She said to accomplish this he attacked her with a barbecue fork, dinner fork and beat and dragged her through her apartment.
Doctors treated Lawrence for a broken rib, nose and orbital socket as well as puncture wounds, cuts to her hands, severe bruising and a sprained ankle, McGee said in her closing argument.
Lawrence had testified she’d locked herself in her apartment, after seeing Williams in her neighborhood moments before the attack occurred. When she wouldn’t answer his phone calls or the door, she said Williams dove through her bedroom window.
Williams’ attorney, Herb Weston, said in his closing argument that his client didn’t jump through the window to attack Lawrence, but to save her life. Weston said Williams believed Lawrence was attempting to commit suicide, a threat he said Lawrence had made on other occasions.
If Williams, a military veteran, wanted to kill his wife, the attack wouldn’t have lasted approximately 30 minutes nor would Williams have grabbed a table fork from a drawer, which contained a kitchen knife, Weston said.
A single blood droplet was found on a fork in the kitchen drawer, according to court evidence. Weston told jurors he believed the blood came from Lawrence when she went to grab the table fork. That evidence along with a lack of blood in the bathroom where Lawrence said her head and faced were bashed against the sink, are examples of her inflicting injuries on herself to accomplish her goal of having Williams arrested and then murdered in Vista jail by her son’s prison skinhead gang, Weston said.
He said the murder plot was revealed during a prison phone call between Lawrence and her son. Additionally, Weston said Lawrence had gone as far as having her brother arrested and placed in Vista jail a couple of days before the alleged attack, so he could pass on the approved “hit” to the appropriate people.
Weston wasn’t immediately available to comment on the verdict.
Williams has 60 days to file an appeal. McGee said she believed Williams would appeal the decision.