Life Without Parole
In a jury trial that ended Thursday, April 1, in Toombs County Superior Court, Israel Timothy Williams was convicted and sentenced for his role in the 2019 murder of Brandon Colson in Lyons.
Wil liams was convicted of malice murder and the possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and sentenced to life without the possibility of a parole, plus five years to be served consecutively, said Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tripp Fitzner, who tried the case. “The jury convened Monday (March 29) and returned a verdict a little after lunch time today (Thursday). The sentence goes into effect today,” Fitzner said Thursday.
The conviction and sentencing brings to a close a case that began on October, 4, 2019, when Colson, 24, of Lyons, was reported missing.
An article published in The Advance on October 30, 2019, reported that on October 24, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) from Eastman, the Toombs continued from page
County Sheriff’s Office, the Lyons Police Department and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency located a hastily made grave in a wooded area in the Ponderosa Community of Toombs County.
The location of the grave followed interviews and investigation by the Lyons Police Department and the GBI. A warrant was executed for the residence at 148 Ponderosa Road and cadaver dogs provided by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency led officers to the gravesite.
Toombs County Sheriff Alvie (Junior) Kight requested the assistance of the GBI for further investigation. The human remains in the grave were later identified to be those of Colson. Two men were arrested in connection with the case: Hollis Alan Bryant, who was 24 at the time of the murder, of 148 Ponderosa Road, Lyons, where the grave was discovered, and Williams, who was 19 at the time of murder.
Bryant, who, along with Williams, had been indicted on multiple charges related to the homicide, entered a guilty plea before Judge Robert Reeves on November 14, 2019, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
According to Hayward Altman, Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney at that time, Bryant asked that the charges against him be expedited, and a special convening of the Toombs County Grand Jury was called into session where Bryant and Williams were indicted on multiple charges related to the homicide.
During the court session in which Bryant was sentenced GBI Special Agent Craig Pittman was placed on the witness stand by Altman. The agent gave a grizzly account of the details that led up to Colson’s death and the discovery of his remains. According to the agent, the GBI was asked by the Lyons Police Department to become involved initially with the case around October 4 when Colson was still considered a missing person. That investigation led to interviews with Bryant, his wife and others. Based on those interviews, a search warrant was executed at Bryant’s home in Ponderosa. “We were able to locate the pit or make-shift grave that had been covered over with (cut-down) pine trees,” Pittman testified. “The cadaver dogs walked over the area and alerted on that specific area. During that time, I talked with Mr. Bryant's wife and asked her where Mr. Bryant and Mr. Williams were on October 4. Mr. Bryant and Mr. Williams later said they took Mr. Colson out in the woods near the residence and shot him with (a) shotgun.” Both Bryant and Williams gave statements to the GBI that they were involved with Colson’s death, according to Pittman. District Attorney Altman asked the agent while on the stand if the men had given a motive for the shooting, to which he replied, “Mr. Bryant was having some money problems and he had (retrieved) $200 off of the body of Mr. Colson and gave it to his (Bryant’s) wife. He also gave Mr. Williams some money. Mr. Williams had allowed Mr. Colson to borrow some money so that he (could) get a rental trailer and turn on some lights and he was trying to help him out.”
Agent Pittman said, “Both Williams and Bryant admitted to digging the hole and putting the body in there. Also they both admitted to burning the body and the shotgun shells that were used.” Pittman said Bryant and Williams freely gave their statements to law enforcement after being read their Miranda Rights.
Fitzner explained that Bryant received a lesser sentence in part because of his negotiated plea that was conducted in a brief hearing. William’s trial over several days allowed the admission of additional evidence and resulted in a harsher sentence.
Fitzner said that Williams’s trial was delayed by the health pandemic. “This was the first week we had trials in Toombs County since the restrictions were lifted.” He added that he was grateful to the Lyons Police Department and GBI for their hard work on the case.