DA: Tragic accident, but no evidence of crime in Macer’s death

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2017

The evidence in the 2016 wreck that claimed the life of 15-year-old Lorne Wayne Macer does not show the driver who hit him committed a crime, District Attorney Walt Merrell said in a press release Friday night.


An 18-member Covington County grand jury did not find sufficient cause to indict James Williamson this week.

Merrell said there has been “much speculation” about the case and that he has been pressured to pursue charges against Williamson.

The statement released by the DA’s office said a video of the accident captured by a nearby security camera shows “exactly what one would expect – a horribly tragic wreck.” The video allowed troopers to calculate that Williamson was traveling approximately 48 miles per hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone, the statement said, when he hit Macer’s stopped motorcycle on Hwy. 29.

“Witnesses at the scene also reported that Williamson had placed ‘something blue’ in the woods after the wreck,” the press release stated. “With the aid of those witnesses, Trooper (Phillip) Faulkner recovered two water bottles in blue insulated drink sleeves, which were analyzed by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. Forensic testing revealed that one of the bottles contained a mixture which included some form of alcohol. The other bottle had no alcohol. Trooper Faulkner also obtained blood samples from Williamson, and the resulting forensic analysis revealed there was no alcohol present in his blood. The analysis did indicate the presence of certain prescription medications, for which Williamson had prescriptions. Analysis further showed that the levels of prescription medications contained in his blood were consistent with his prescribed dosages and were, in fact, very low.”

The DA’s statement said phone records show Williamson was not using his phone at the time of the wreck. Initial reports released by State Troopers, stated alcohol was believed to be a factor. The official accident report, obtained online from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, still indicates alcohol was a factor.

“Trooper (Phillip) Faulkner stated he initially marked the box because of questions about the water bottles, because of (Trooper) Bender’s statements (that he smelled alcohol on Williamson) and because Williamson did not make a statement at the scene. Ultimately, though, after gathering and processing all of the evidence, Trooper Faulkner concluded that alcohol was not a factor in the accident,” the DA’s statement said.

The DA’s press release stated he also had the attorney general’s office review the case prior to going to the grand jury, and that they found “no further evidence” to affect the case.

“As a final review of the evidence, this week, an 18-member grand jury reviewed this case, hearing hours of testimony from numerous witnesses, and found no probable cause to pursue criminal prosecution against Williamson.”

Merrell said there has been “a great deal of public pressure” for him to prosecute Williamson.

“The evidence does not show he committed a crime,” Merrell said in a statement. “I have always tried to do the right thing as opposed to what was popular, and here the evidence does not show that Williamson bears any criminal responsibility for Lorne Macer’s death. That is not to say he bears no responsibility at all. To what degree he is responsible will be determined by the jury that hears the Macer family’s lawsuit against Williamson.”

Dothan attorney Ben Irwin, who is representing the Macer family in that civil case, noted that the prescriptions found were not disclosed.

“We know that Williamson’s DNA was on the water bottle with the alcohol,” Irwin said. “If the prescriptions were for pain, he could easily have become quickly impaired when mixing the prescription with alcohol.

“Clearly, there is a reason why most medications advise that they should not be mixed with alcohol,” Irwin said. “All of that leads to probable cause.”

The civil case against Williamson is in the discovery phase. No trial date has been set.