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Punishment Phase Starts Today in Smuggling Deaths

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The punishment phase begins today in the trial of a truck driver convicted for taking part in the nation's deadliest human smuggling attempt.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Tyrone Williams.

A federal jury convicted Williams for his role in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants who died of dehydration, overheating and suffocation inside his tractor-trailer.

Williams transported more than 70 immigrants inside his trailer during a May 2003 smuggling attempt from South Texas to Houston.

Prosecutors say Williams merits a death sentence because he knew what the immigrants were going through but failed to free them.

Craig Washington, Williams' defense attorney, says his client transported the illegal immigrants but wasn't responsible for their deaths because he didn't know they were dying until it was too late.

Both sides plan to call at least 20 witnesses.


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