Remember William Crum, the a-hole who swerved his car into a motorcycle when it attempted to pass him over double-yellow lines on a Texas highway, knocking the rider and his passenger off the road and causing them to crash?
Well, it’s now just past Crum’s one-year anniversary in jail while the 69-year-old awaits trial on aggravated assault charges. His bond was set at $75,000 for each charge, which he apparently is unable or unwilling to pay. If convicted, Crum could face up to 20 years in prison for each count. Below is an explanation of the legal proceedings since the incident from our favorite motorcycle-riding attorney, John Butrus. —Ed.
Last October, John Burns wrote an article about William Sam Crum who intentionally crashed into a motorcyclist and his passenger, which caused them serious injuries that required hospital treatment. When a following motorcyclist with a video camera confronted Crum about the crash and the passenger’s injuries, Crum responded on video, “I don’t care.” The video attracted more than 1.6 million YouTube views.
Court records show Crum charged with two aggravated assault cases (felonies). Police arrested Crum one day after the incident on October 19, 2015, and booked him into jail early on October 20. Apparently unable to make bail, Crum has been in jail since then, but has had no court settings since his arraignment hearing (charges read, plea entered) on February 2, 2016.
Normally, cases where the defendant does not make bail (i.e., awaits trial in jail) have at least one setting a month. Many courts require a court setting every week or so because it is expensive (and in some cases unfair) to keep a defendant in jail for an extended period while awaiting trial.
The 355th District Court in Hood County, where Crum’s cases are pending, has a standing discovery order related to criminal cases which requires the State to give defense counsel essentially all the evidence in its possession. In addition, the Hood County District Attorney’s office has an “open file policy” in which it makes available its file to defense counsel. The discovery order and open file policy explain, in part, why Crum’s case has had so few pre-trial settings.
Trish Walters, Assistant Court Administrator for the 355th District Court where Crum’s case is pending, confirmed Crum’s case has no court settings. Walters further confirmed Crum remains in the Hood County jail, and said Crum “must wait for his case to be targeted” for trial.
Crum’s attorney, Luke Lukas, said he expects Crum’s cases to go to trial, in part, because Judge Ralph H. Walton Jr., does not accept many plea-bargain agreements. This explains why the court has an active trial docket. Lukas declined to discuss whether the State has made any plea-bargain offers but said he expects the case to be set for trial “soon.” Typically, this court sets trials four to eight weeks after giving notice to the State and the accused.
Lukas feels media coverage has been “one-sided” against his client. The defense has not finalized its trial strategy, but may stick with Crum’s claimed excuse that a bee sting caused the crash. The motorcyclist was passing Crum in a no passing zone when the crash occurred. As such, I expect the defense to argue the incident would not have occurred if the motorcyclist had adhered to the traffic laws. Yes, to blame the victim is a rabbit trail, but it’s an argument that may appeal to some jurors, and a criminal defendant needs only one juror on his side to avoid a guilty verdict.
Crum appears eligible for probation under Texas law, however, only a jury (and not a judge) can give Crum probation for aggravated assault. Hood County juries, like most rural Texas juries, are tough on crime. As such, Crum may receive an extensive prison sentence if found guilty, even though he does not have an extensive criminal record.
Hood County authorities have taken this incident seriously. The police arrested Crum the day after the incident, and he has remained in jail ever since. Crum faces two serious felony charges, and the cases are headed to trial where an impartial jury will decide Crum’s fate.