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December 20, 2014

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Decorated former Metro officer pleads guilty in DUI death

Plea agreement proposed in separate grand larceny case involving onetime cop

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Michael McNamee

A former Metro Police officer was sentenced today in Clark County District Court for a DUI wreck in April that killed an elementary school teacher.

In a deal with prosecutors, Michael McNamee, 42, pleaded guilty to a felony count of driving under the influence and causing death. Judge Elissa Cadish sentenced McNamee to three and half to 20 years in prison. McNamee also must pay a $2,000 fine.

McNamee was driving east on Blue Diamond Road about 11:30 p.m. April 16 when he ran a red light at Decatur Boulevard and slammed his Jeep into a Hyundai driven by Robert George Williams, according to reports. McNamee attempted to offer aid, his attorney Warren Geller said, but Williams, 57, died on his way to University Medical Center.

McNamee told officers he had consumed several beers before the accident, according to court records. A Breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol content to be .097. The legal limit is .08.

Reading from a prepared statement, McNamee told the court words couldn’t begin to express his regret and causing Williams’ death was something he would carry with him the rest of his life.

"It was painful for him to have to see what (the family) experienced and the outcome it's had on their lives,” Geller said.

Williams’ family members gave emotional testimony during the hearing.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Shirley Williams, who was left a widow by the accident. “I know he might be sorry and all that, but I don’t know whatever happened to the death penalty. People don’t take anything seriously anymore.”

Shirley Williams showed the court a blanket decorated with colorful handprints made by third- and fourth-graders at Charles and Phyllis Frias Elementary School, where her husband had taught. Shirley Williams spoke of how much her husband had meant to those who knew him.

The children “are all sad and they wrote cards and everything,” Shirley Williams said.

Several family members sent letters to the court detailing how much they loved Robert Williams.

Holding back tears, Robert Williams’ brother David said he was concerned what would happen if McNamee gets out of prison and drinks and drives again.

Before McNamee’s driving privileges can be reinstated, he must pay to have an interlock device installed in his car for two years.

The troubled former officer also has agreed to a guilty plea in a separate case involving a stolen bracelet, court officials said.

In September 2012 a couple allowed McNamee to move into their home in the 10000 Block of Natchez Trace Street. When he was arrested in April, they discovered McNamee had personal problems, including issues with prescription drug use, according to the arrest report. They also found out that he had financial woes and was pawning personal items, according to the arrest report. The wife discovered her bracelet valued around $4,000 was missing and spoke with police in May. A police investigation revealed that McNamee had pawned a similar bracelet in February. He used his driver’s license as ID at the pawn store.

Already in custody for the DUI case, he was charged with grand larceny, obtaining money under false pretenses and possession of stolen property. He was also charged with burglary because he allegedly entered the pawnshop with the intent to commit a crime.

Under the proposed plea deal, McNamee would plead guilty to a felony charge of attempted possession of stolen property and would receive a sentence of one to two and half years in prison to run concurrently with his sentence in the DUI case.

A sentencing in the grand larceny case is scheduled before Judge Jessie Walsh at 8:30 a.m. July 29.

A Metro officer from February 2000 to March 2010, McNamee was awarded a Purple Heart in 2001 after he was shot in the face and back while attempting to detain a shooting suspect.

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