Man goes to court for 2008 Thomson killings

Bryant Williams

THOMSON --- A man accused of killing his girlfriend and her pregnant sister in 2008 wishes he could turn back the hands of time.


That is what Bryant Williams said during a recorded confession that was played during his bench trial in McDuffie County Superior Court on Monday.

Williams is accused of killing his girlfriend, Linda Mathis, and her sister, Marlow, who was seven months pregnant.

Both were shot to death April 30, 2008, in an apartment shared by Williams and his girlfriend in Thomson.

"I don't know why I did it," Williams said between sobs on the recording. "I knew I was wrong when I did it. I wished I would have just stayed at work."

Immediately after the shooting, which occurred about 4 p.m., Williams fled and was caught in Washington County near Sandersville. A few hours later, he made the confession to Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Tony Williamson and Thomson Police Department Investigator Scott Whittle.

Williams has been jailed on two counts each of malice murder, felony murder, feticide, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes, and three counts of statutory aggravating circumstances.

At his December 2008 arraignment, Williams pleaded not guilty to those charges and later waived his right to a jury trial, preventing the state from seeking the death penalty. Williams requested the bench trial, which is taking place this week before Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Harold A. Hinesley.

The first day of the trial proved dramatic, with the audio recording of Williams sobbing uncontrollably during the interview, and family members of the victims sobbing and leaving the courtroom while the prosecutor gave details of the crime.

District Attorney Dennis C. Sanders presented about 75 diagrams and photographs during the testimony of GBI crime scene specialist Steven Foster and about 10 other witnesses. The photos from Foster's investigation revealed that no struggle had taken place in the apartment before the shootings. Previous witnesses, along with the defendant's confession, revealed that Williams and Linda Mathis were arguing over the telephone that afternoon, and then he left work early.

According to testimony, Williams first shot Marlow several times in the living room, which caused Linda to run and lock herself in a bedroom. Williams broke down the bedroom door and shot Linda several times.

"I don't know (how many times), I just pulled the trigger," Williams said on the recording. "I just shot."

Public defender Harold W. Wallace III objected to the confession's submission as evidence, contending Williams was too distraught to think for himself when he didn't immediately request an attorney.

"When an individual is distraught, upset and out of control, there is a slightly higher standard to his right to an attorney," Wallace said. "He should've been given time to himself because he couldn't think for himself."

Hinesley overruled the objection, saying that he felt the state had met the burden of proof and that the defendant's statements were made freely and voluntarily.

The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m.