Grand jury decision disappoints family

Published 12:03 am Saturday, June 17, 2017

“There is no way I can describe to you how I feel.”

Those were the words of Justin Macer Friday afternoon after learning that a Covington County grand jury did not find sufficient cause for a case against James Williamson, the driver in a 2016 accident that claimed the life of Macer’s 15-year-old son, Lorne Wayne Macer. Lorne Macer died the day after the accident at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.

Lorne Macer, 15, died last May after his motorcycle was struck by an SUV.

Macer said he learned there would be no criminal case shortly after lunch Friday, when his ex-wife called Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter to inquire about the grand jury’s findings. The family had been told the case would be presented to the grand jury this week.

Justin Macer said he believes a real-time video of the accident captured by a security camera at a mobile home lot near the accident scene provides enough evidence for a case.

“It’s about one minute of the accident site,” he said. “It’s footage of my son completely stopped and waiting for traffic to clear. You can count about three seconds he is completely stopped. Then he is hit from behind.”

Macer shared the video with The Star-News on Friday.

Neither Jeter nor District Attorney Walt Merrell took phone calls from the newspaper Friday afternoon, but the office released a statement at about 8 Friday night. (See related story). In it, Merrell said the evidence does not show Williamson committed a crime.

“It’s disappointing. Heartbreaking,” Macer said. “I don’t really understand why (Williamson) doesn’t have to defend himself. It if had been me who hit someone else, I feel like I would have been in jail that day. But I am essentially a nobody. I am not well known in social circles.”

If Macer was at a loss for words, the family’s attorney, Ben Irwin of Dothan, was not.

“What the grand jury said was if you’re in Andalusia, and you’re wealthy and prominent, and you happen to kill a 15-year-old child on a motorcycle, it’s OK.”

Irwin said he believes Williamson should have to stand trial before a jury of his peers, even if for a minimum of involuntary manslaughter.

“The appearance is, once again, the system is not about justice, but about wealth and power,” Irwin said. “It should not matter who they are or what they’ve done or where they go to church. I don’t live there. I don’t have an agenda. But these facts are readily available, and this person should be held to a standard with a defense attorney and a prosecutor. Where else is the justice for this child?”

Irwin has filed a civil case against Williamson on behalf of the Macer family. No trial date has been set.