Inmate violated his parole multiple times before killing son in car crash

Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 8:25 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Before a Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Deputy found 18-Year-Old Jaxon Williams dead in a blue Mini Cooper, they said they watched the car he was inside of rollover several times after it failed to make a turn during a chase with law enforcement where speeds reached 105mph.

The driver, Curtis Allen Williams, was charged with homicide by vehicle among other charges. Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found records showing parole officers had the opportunity to send him back to prison before the deadly crash, but didn’t file paperwork to argue the case in front of a judge.

Court records show Williams, who was also Jaxon’s Dad, was arrested about two months before the crash for driving under the influence among other driving-related crimes after his Blood Alcohol Content was .189%. Those records also show Williams left his job and was seen on video damaging power sprayer equipment, which was also a violation of his parole.

Katie Johnson, who Is Jaxon’s Mom, said she blames the state for his death. She believes parole officers had the opportunity to send a dangerous person back to prison and is frustrated officials didn’t take action after the first violation.

“My son should still be here,” Johnson said. “I get to deal with this pain for the rest of my life. He doesn’t get to live the rest of his life. His friends get to go on without him.”

Our i9 Investigative Team has done other stories about people convicted of violent crimes avoiding time in prison in our Investigative Series called “Released Too Soon”. You can read a story about a sex offender released from prison by mistake, a story about a former Board of Parole member describing and documenting illegal decisions by the Iowa Board of Parole or a story about emails showing concerns over decisions made by the Iowa Board of Parole.

Corrections officials concerned with release decisions from Iowa Board of Parole
Corrections officials concerned with release decisions from Iowa Board of Parole(Ethan Stein)

Court records show Williams pled guilty to kidnapping, theft, and burglary in May 2013. According to documents from the Iowa Board of Parole, Williams was allowed to leave prison about seven years later after receiving parole in September 2020.

State law gives the board the ability to release people when it’s the board’s opinion there is a “reasonable probability” that the person can be released without detriment to the community or the person. Those opinions are influenced by various factors like criminal history, disciplinary history, risk assessment score and a recommendation from the Department of Corrections. The board can’t release those inmates serving a life sentence or inmates still serving a mandatory minimum, which didn’t apply to Williams case.

According to court documents, Williams was charged with driving under the influence after prosecutors said an Iowa State Trooper smelled alcohol coming from his truck, heard slurred speech, saw Williams’ bloodshot and watery eyes along with an open can of Twisted Tea spilling down the truck. Williams wasn’t allowed to consume alcohol or break laws as a condition of his parole, according to the application to revoke his early release.

Williams also quit his job after he walked off the job, was seen on video footage damaging power sprayer equipment and didn’t notify his parole officer about losing employment. All three of those actions were also violations of his parole. According to court records, those violations happened about 15 days before the deadly crash.

Katie Johnson said she doesn’t believe there was supervision from a parole officer because she believes his parole should have been revoked after the arrest.

It seems like supervision was not really there,” she said. “...Like he got an OWI in July on parole and then two months later my son is taken in an incident, that’s pretty horrific.”

Johnson said she continues to cry every night and step away from situations to collect herself when she gets triggered by the memory. She said she tries to stay strong for her remaining children.

“It’s been extremely difficult,” Johnson said. “I’m not handling it well at all by any means. He had siblings. I still have children that I kind of have to keep myself together for, it’s been extremely difficult. I can maybe save face sometimes. But, at the end of the day, it’s not okay and it’s never going to be okay.”

The Department of Correctional Services 1st Judicial District oversaw Williams’ parole. Kenneth Kolthoff, who is district director for the state agency, didn’t respond to TV9′s request for comment or agree to an interview on camera.

State Data, which our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team analyzed, shows officials are most likely to wait if somebody gets convicted before trying to revoke an inmate’s early release. This means getting arrested or violating a condition of an early release isn’t enough to send somebody back to prison or jail.

The data shows an early release was revoked because an inmate was convicted of a new felony or aggravated misdemeanor around 43% of the time between July 2012 to March 2023. The data shows a new arrest led to an early release being revoked around 30% of the time during the same time period while another violation led to a revocation 21% of the time. Some data entries didn’t documents the reason an early release was revoked.

Iowa Code only requires a parole officer to file a request to cancel an early release if somebody is convicted of a crime.

Sometimes people violate those conditions multiple times, like Bryant Wallace. Wallace was placed on probation for five years after he pled guilty to lesser charges after prosecutors said he engaged in a sex act with a 13-year-old girl in 2020.

Then, court records show he violated his probation more than 50 times from August 2021 to March 2023. Most of Wallace’s violations occurred from August 2021 to July 2022, which were mostly related to issues around his location, missing sexual abuse treatment programs and the battery on the GPS around his ankle to die.

An official with the Department of Correctional Services for the 6th District said Wallace was arrested in July 2022 for not following the terms of his probation but was released on bond.

About two months later, court documents show Wallace was charged with robbery, theft and assault. Prosecutors said Wallace along with another man assaulted a man and then took his shoes, cell phone, a pink vape pen and two ounces of marijuana. Then, Wallace was arrested again after the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said Wallace and another teenager drove by an RV and fired five shots at a camper, which almost hit somebody inside.