August 27, 2014

Indicted Keller mom stood to benefit from policies

A murder trial for a Keller mother accused of killing her husband is scheduled for next month in Fort Worth.

A woman charged with shooting her husband to death in Keller in 2011 stood to benefit from two life insurance policies worth $650,000, according to court documents obtained by the Star-Telegram this week.

The documents filed by prosecutors in preparation for the murder trial next month of Michele Marie Williams, 45, show that a third insurance policy on Greg Williams, valued at $150,000, named the couple’s daughter as the benefactor.

Williams was indicted on a murder charge in her husband’s death. She later pleaded guilty to deadly conduct and tampering with evidence as part of a plea agreement. But after Williams told a 48 Hours TV crew that she was innocent, state District Judge Scott Wisch threw out the plea deal in February .

Wisch then recused himself from the case and agreed to her defense attorneys’ request to recuse themselves.

Her murder trial is scheduled for Sept. 22 in Criminal District Court No. 396. She is also charged with tampering with evidence.

Tarrant County district attorney’s spokeswoman Melody McDonald on Wednesday said the office had no comment.

“This murder trial is fast-approaching and it would be inappropriate to talk about anything in regard to this case at this time,” she said.

Defense attorney Clay Graham of Fort Worth could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Prosecutors filed dozens of business records related to the case on Aug. 1, mostly from the three insurance policies on Greg Williams, 40.

He signed a policy worth $150,000 in May 2008 with Garden State Life Insurance before he married Michele Zahn (Williams) on Sept. 7, 2008. She was named as beneficiary, and he was beneficiary if she died.

In January 2009, Greg Williams took out a policy with Household Life Insurance worth $500,000, with Michele Williams as beneficiary.

The couple’s 4-year-old daughter was the beneficiary in a third policy, worth $150,000, with Gerber Life Insurance issued Aug. 23, 2011.

In October 2011, Greg Williams owned a computer programming company in North Texas, and his wife was the office manager. She had also operated a frozen-yogurt shop in north Fort Worth, across from Keller Central High School.

He was killed on Oct. 13, 2011. Michele Williams initially blamed the shooting on a nighttime intruder at their home in the 1400 block of Jacob Avenue in Keller.

Then she changed her story and told police her husband killed himself. She said she had lied to protect their daughter — who was in the house at the time of the shooting — from finding out that her father committed suicide.

A search warrant affidavit indicated that investigators thought Williams might have sedated her husband and turned up the TV to cover the sound of the gunshot. It also implied that she used the Internet to research how to stage a crime scene.

She was indicted on the murder charge in June 2012, but prosecutors said they offered her the plea agreement because of “serious legal and technical issues with the investigation.”

Records indicate that Michele Williams called officials with Gerber Life Insurance in January 2013, wanting to file a claim on the death of her husband. At times during 2013, Gerber officials could not find an address for her as they tried to process the claim. That claim is pending, according to court records.

She pleaded guilty to the deadly conduct and tampering with evidence charges in October 2013. Prosecutors agreed to recommend an 18-year prison sentence for tampering with evidence and two years for deadly conduct.

Sentencing was set for April because she was supposedly pregnant with twins, but the date was moved to February when court officials learned she was no longer pregnant.

After her husband’s death, she worked at a fitness center. She later worked as a waitress at a strip club after she told court officials that she was pregnant and while she was free on bail and supposed to be wearing an ankle monitor, according to court testimony earlier this year.

Strip club job

Williams’ probation officer testified that she had worked at a sports bar and as a waitress at a “gentleman’s club.”

The probation officer also said that data from Williams’ ankle monitor did not indicate she visited a doctor’s office even though she had told court officials she was pregnant.

In February, Wisch threw out the plea agreement after prosecutors questioned statements Williams made professing her innocence during a jailhouse interview with 48 Hours. During a hearing in March, Williams told Wisch: “Your honor, I’m not guilty and I can’t sit here and answer the question the way everyone wants me to.”

In an earlier jailhouse interview with the Star-Telegram, Williams said she accepted the plea to avoid the risk of a longer sentence at trial and so she could be reunited sooner with her daughter. Williams said she was confident she would make parole when first eligible, in two years and four months.

Williams declined during the Star-Telegram interview to discuss specifics of her husband’s death or the events that followed, citing her attorney’s advice to wait until after her sentencing hearing.

But she apparently was more forthcoming the next day with 48 Hours. The segment was not scheduled to air until after Wisch formally sentenced her.

Williams remained in the Tarrant County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $850,000 bail.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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