Man who killed woman while evading Fort Worth police in stolen truck gets 45 years

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH - A man who killed a woman while running from police in a stolen semi truck pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges Wednesday and received a 45-year prison sentence.

James Craig Layland, 50, was attempting to flee the scene after a police officer attempted to question him about passing a $100 counterfeit bill at Terry's Food Mart in the 5200 block of Birchman Avenue.

Layland plowed the stolen truck into an SUV with three people inside, killing Ming-Yueh Bixler, a passenger.

Christopher Lawler, Bixler's son, said during his victim's impact statement Monday that his mother had four children and six grandchildren. She volunteered at a local hospice and was the backbone of the family, he said.

Lawler encouraged Layland to help others in prison to try and make up for some of the destruction that he caused.

"She saw things you wouldn't believe, the strength in her daughters, the hope in her sons, the spiritual partner in her husband. She saw a need in her community and she would volunteer at the hospice whenever she could help," Lawler said.

"She was the 'eye' in our family. An eye for an eye is a statement that some like to use. I'd like to use it from a different perspective. I know where you're going and you know where you're going. You will have opportunities in 45 years to give back an eye. You will have people in your cell, kids; they will be your chance, your opportunities to change.

"Because you took an eye away you have to give it back," Lawler said.

On May 25, officer T. Shelton was attempting to question Layland in the parking lot of a convenience store when Layland took off in the stolen truck. Shelton jumped on the truck's running board and ordered him to stop, but Layland sped off and hit a parked car, knocking Shelton to the ground. The officer was not seriously injured.

Police say Layland then drove about five blocks through an alley between Birchman and Calmont Avenues before hitting an SUV with Bixler and two other people inside and crashing into a garage.

Bixler, 58, of Haltom City, died at the scene. Her husband, Dr. Glenn Bixler, 61, was critically injured. David Sedore, 39, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Layland ran away, police said. He was later found hiding in a nearby garage and was taken into custody, according to authorities.

During the arrest, police discovered Layland had a stolen Oregon driver's license in his possession belonging to James Dale Morgan. After he found about the wreck and Bixler's death, Morgan came to Fort Worth to clear his name and to retrieve a dog, which Layland had also stolen.

Morgan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had known Layland for about three months when Layland tried to use his driver's license to pay medical bills and buy a mobile home. Layland then disappeared, Morgan said.

Layland faced additional charges including aggravated assault of a public servant, evading arrest and detention, causing an accident involving serious injury or death and theft of $20,000 to $100,000. He pleaded guilty to all charges on Wednesday.

This story contains material from the Star-Telegram archives

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