Timothy McWilliams
Timothy McWilliams during a court appearance in January 2019 in front of 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Kurt Hall.

McWilliams sentenced to 15 years in voluntary manslaughter case

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man who was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2019 was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday.

Timothy McWilliams, 64, was sentenced to a 15-year determinate sentence Wednesday afternoon in Upshur County Circuit Court.

McWilliams, who killed his father, 84-year-old Leo McWilliams, in the early morning hours of March 8, 2018, according to previous story, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on April 11, 2019 in front of 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Kurt Hall.

McWilliams pleaded guilty via a Kennedy plea, which allows a defendant to plead guilty without overtly admitting guilt. Instead, the person concedes the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict her or him of a crime.

Phil Davis, who has since replaced Dennis Willett as McWilliams’ attorney, said he had advocated for a lighter sentence for his client but given the circumstances, the judge believed a 15-year sentence was appropriate.

Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Hinkle said a diagnostic evaluation within the West Virginia Division of Corrections had concluded McWilliams had violent, sociopathic tendencies.

According to a previous story, the victim, Leo McWilliams, had advanced-stage Alzheimer’s Disease. He reportedly walked into the bedroom of his son, Timothy McWilliams, on the morning of March 8, 2018, woke him up and began making accusations. He also cut his son’s arm with one of two knives he had brought into the bedroom, then-Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney David Godwin previously told Hall. (Read the full story here.)

McWilliams then allegedly took the knife from his father, pushed him to the ground and cut his throat, which resulted in Leo McWilliams’ death, according to evidence presented by former Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney David Godwin, who has since retired.

The penalty for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter is imprisonment for three to 15 years in a state correctional facility, so McWilliams received the maximum possible sentence.

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