February 2010 Vehicular Homicide Killed ASU Student
PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2011) - What began as a midnight beer run last year ended minutes later in a car crash that killed 27 year-old Abel Abebe, an Arizona State University Pharmacy student.
Last week, a jury found 49 year-old Berry Williams guilty of First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Unlawful Flight from Law Enforcement, Endangerment and Shoplifting. At a minimum Mr. Williams faces 25-years to natural life in prison for the Murder.
“This was more than just drinking and driving,” noted County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This defendant displayed a total disregard for human life and recklessly created a grave risk of death to anyone who might come in his path. His decision to steal beer and flee the scene of the theft wound up killing an innocent man with a promising future. We will seek a maximum sentence to prevent Mr. Williams from further endangering the citizens of Maricopa County,” he added.
Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner said: “This suspect made choices that killed a man who was working and going to school to better his life. Each year our community suffers the loss of innocent victims like him who are killed by drunk drivers. These crimes tear at the very heart of our community and cannot be tolerated. The Phoenix Police Department is committed to aggressively enforcing DUI laws.”
On February 1st, 2010 defendant Williams went to a Circle K at 5845 West McDowell Road in Phoenix where he stole several 30-packs of beer worth about $95. He left in a car being by another person. Phoenix Police spotted the vehicle stopped in the middle of 55th Avenue as the defendant and the driver switched seats. When officers stopped behind the vehicle and approached defendant Williams drove off. The officers gave chase with their lights and siren activated. The vehicle failed to stop. Officers contacted dispatch and relayed the license plate number. They backed off and let an air unit continue tactical surveillance. Williams entered the I-10 freeway at 75th Avenue. Prior to exiting at 27th Avenue a speed camera photo flashed and showed the defendant driving at a speed of 112 miles per hour with the passenger crouched down. Just after 12:30a.m., Williams ran a red light at 19th Avenue and Baseline where he struck a car being driven by Abel Abebe. Mr. Abebe died as a result of the injuries he received in the collision. A medical blood draw determined Williams’ alcohol concentration at .121% and also showed the presence of cocaine.
A status conference has been set for August 26th in front of Judge Susanna Pineda at which a sentencing date will be discussed.