The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a Monticello man’s first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse convictions in the April 2013 death of a 36-year-old Warren woman.
Fred L. Williams, 52, of Monticello was sentenced to life in prison for the death of his former girlfriend, Tangela Walton, who was reported missing when she failed to pick up her daughter from daycare on April 5, 2013.
Williams twice denied knowing where Walton was, but later told officers he had buried her body then led the officers to a small grave located in a wooded area behind his home. He told officers he had a seizure while engaging in sex with Walton and when he woke, Walton was was not breathing. He said that he stayed with her for a couple of hours, crying and trying to revive her, but at some point he carried her outside of his house and buried her.
Williams also sent text messages to Walton’s phone that made it appear as if they were not together, but were sent at times when Williams later admitted they were. The state argued that Williams sent the text messages in an attempt to establish an alibi.
On appeal, Williams’ argued that there was insufficient evidence to show he intended to cause Walton’s death. He also argued that he buried Walton clothed, and that he neither mutilated her nor mistreated her body in an offensive manner and his motion for a directed verdict on that charge should have been granted as well.
The State argued that there was substantial evidence presented to support both of Williams’ convictions and the jury was free to accept Williams’ admission to putting Walton in a situation in which she was intentionally deprived of oxygen, but it was also free to reject his assertion that her death was accidental asphyxiation due to his weight. The state further argued that the jury was the bellwether of what was reasonable and could conclude that Williams’ conduct in burying Walton’s body in a shallow grave was offensive to a person of reasonable sensibilities.
The Supreme Court agreed, unanimously affirming the convictions and sentence.