OKLAHOMA CITY – The family of the man who was shot and killed by his bail bondsman is speaking out for the first time in an exclusive interview with News 4’s Ali Meyer.
Last August, Brandon Williams was facing charges for drugs and second-degree burglary.
Williams hired Chasity Carey to post his bond.
Carey later shot and killed him in her office and was then was found not guilty of murder by a jury in Payne County.
On August 9th, 2017, Carey called 911 after she shot Williams in her office at Signature Bonds in downtown Stillwater.
The killing was caught on camera.
That morning, Carey invited her client to the office to revoke his bond and take him back to jail.
Williams arrived unarmed.
The bondsman believed he was jumping bail.
Williams family now says he told the bondsman he was making a trip to Florida because he wanted to attend the funeral for his mother who’d passed away the week before.
“Honestly, it seems very malicious,” said Williams’ ex-wife Ashley Melton after she watched the video of the shooting. “It seemed set up. It seemed like Brandon didn’t have a clue what he walked into. Honestly. It felt like he was set up.”
Melton married Williams in 2013.
They had a son together two years ago.
They divorced last year, but remained friends.
“Brandon was a good guy,” Melton said. “The last thing he deserved was to have his life taken from him. Honestly feel like it was very malicious.”
Melton’s son, two-year-old James Williams was named after his father, Brandon James.
Melton was never contacted by the district attorney’s office.
According to prosecutor Kevin Etherington the district attorney’s office wasn’t aware of Williams’ ex-wife or his young son until after trial.
Melton has these words for Chasity Carey:
“I hope your decision will forever haunt you. You’ve had one judgment day, but you’ll have another. You had no right taking someone’s life. No right.”
Judgment day came the week before last in Payne County Court.
Carey faced life in prison on the charge of first-degree murder.
The trial went on for four days.
The state fought for first degree-murder and lost.
The case was a victory for the killer.
The verdict stunned the world.
Many who watched the video after it was released by the district attorney’s office were asking, how could the shooter walk free?
“In this case, the video is important. But what’s not on the video is even more important. What’s not on the video is the reasonable doubt,” said Carey’s defense attorney, Jarrod Stevenson.
Reasonable doubt served up another acquittal for Stevenson.
In fact, he says, the jurors never even got to the question of self-defense because they did not believe the bail bondsman intended to take Williams’ life.
“They could not prove she deliberately tried to kill this man,” Stevenson said. “The jury was not happy. Several of them were crying. A couple of them were mad. One juror left the room because of the decision they were forced to make because there was no evidence of deliberate intent.”
Jurors reportedly told the defense after trial they would have convicted on a charge of manslaughter or reckless use of a gun.
We know now, according to Stevenson, the bondsman would have accepted ten years in prison for a guilty plea had the state offered up a deal.
“If she actually intended to kill this man, she’s within a foot of him. She could have done a kill shot to the head or a shot to his heart,” Stevenson said he argued in trial. “She didn’t do that. She downward angled toward his back.”
Stevenson told the jury his client was trying to disable Brandon Williams, not kill him.
The district attorney, Laura Austin Thomas, is facing backlash for charging first-degree murder instead of a lesser crime.
The bondsman and her attorneys have been getting death threats from across the globe.
“I don’t like it when the bad guys win, but I like it when the system works,” Stevenson said. “And the system was designed for me to be the check and balances against the state.”
The scales of justice tipped in her favor for the criminal trial.
But, the bondsman hasn’t seen her last courtroom yet.
“She takes advantage every day of criminals needing bond money and somehow she took advantage of the criminal justice system at her own trial,” said attorney Ramez Shamieh.
Shamieh plans on filing a civil lawsuit against the bondsman on behalf of his client, Ashley Melton.
The suit will be a last stab at justice for Williams’ family.
“The family, at this point, they want two things,” said personal injury litigator Noble McIntyre. “They want justice and they want this to never happen to anybody else’s family.”
McIntyre is joining with Shamieh in the civil lawsuit, which they anticipate filing this month.
Reasonable doubt is not a factor in civil cases and the tables may be turned.
The Williams family needs only convincing evidence for a judgment in their favor.
“You have to behave professionally. You can’t take the life of another person,” McIntyre said. “Whether there’s a dime to be collected or not, there’s a message to be sent. That message is going to get sent, and it’s going to get sent very loudly.”
News 4’s Ali Meyer called the Payne County district attorney’s office to talk about the case.
DA Laura Austin Thomas’ office issued the following statement:
District Attorneys across the State have the responsibility and ethical obligation to file charges based upon the evidence presented by an investigation and the law. I stand by my decision to file Murder 1st degree in this case based upon the evidence presented to me. A Manslaughter charge was not appropriate at the time of filing. After the evidence has been presented at a trial, the judge can instruct the jury on additional crimes if he or she believes the evidence supports consideration of another charge; in this case the judge instructed on only the same charge the state filed in the beginning.
District Attorneys should not, and my office does not, seek justice depending upon who a victim is or what their background may be. Upholding the rule of law requires that approach and my obligation extends to all the citizens of my district.
It is the jury’s job to determine what facts are or are not important to them and render a verdict. That is what they are selected to do. Although there are many flaws in the criminal justice system, we have the best in the world, and I would not want to be a part of any other. I am grateful for the service of each and every one of our jurors and do not and will not criticize their verdicts. As a prosecutor with 34 years of experience I understand the burdens and obligations placed on every participant in a criminal trial including my own staff, the defense, the judge and the jury. They are heavy burdens and, in my opinion, not one of them enters a courtroom with anything other than a desire to proceed correctly, fairly and zealously and with a deep respect for each other. We respect all those duties and positions and the outcome whatever it might be. I am proud of my staff and the excellent investigators at the Stillwater Police Department for their dedicated efforts in bringing this case to trial.
Chasity Carey would not agree to an on-camera interview. However, her attorney tells News 4 she intends to go back to work as a bail bondsman by the end of the week. She said through her attorney that she’d lost everything while incarcerated. Carey spent seven months in prison awaiting trial.