Tyler man gets 99 years for evading arrest

SMITH COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGEAPH) - A Smith County jury in the 114th District Court sentenced a 43-year-old Tyler man to 99 years in prison Wednesday for evading arrest in a vehicle in January, prosecutor Jacob Putnam said.

Billy Bob Willingham, who has four prior felony convictions and 10 misdemeanor convictions, will have to serve at least 15 years in prison before he is eligible for parole, Putnam said. All of his prior convictions except for one were in Smith County, Putnam said. Judge Christi Kennedy presided over the trial, and defense attorney Brent Ratekin represented Willingham.

Willingham faced a sentencing range of 25 to 99 years or life because of his prior convictions, Putnam said.

On Jan. 30, State Trooper Charles Loftin pulled Willingham over on Loop 323 because he failed to signal during a lane change, Putnam said.


The defendant began to drive at 100 mph on a chase, which turned on to FM 2767.

“He drove into a pasture, and his car stalled because it was wet,” Putnam said. “Willingham got out and began to run and got stuck in a briar patch.”


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