Corinne Schwab and Ashley Sams (L-R) — the two 18-year-olds accused of trying to push classmate Cheyenne Williams off a cliff because she is gay — won’t face kidnapping or attempted murder charges, because there’s not enough evidence for felony charges, a judge ruled. Instead they’ll face misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree assault and menacing; it’s unclear what charges a third suspect, the as-yet unidentified 17-year-old, will face.
Williams, however, told Judge Henria Bailey-Lewis a very different story about her attack, but Sams’ attorney claimed Williams “has videotaped fake or silly things in the past to post on the Internet, and said she laughed throughout the alleged attempt on her life,” reports the Kentucky Lexington-Herald Leader. Indeed, there is video of the account.
State police Detective Joie Peters said a few small bruises he saw on Williams the Tuesday after the attack didn’t square with her account. Peters confirmed Williams laughed throughout most of the video, which was not played in court. The video did not show the chain tight around her neck, he said. Peters said he had gotten inconsistent statements in his investigation. Williams’ mother, for instance, said the girls tried to shove Williams over Flat Lick Falls, but Williams did not say that, Peters said.
[…] Bailey-Lewis reduced the charges after viewing the video in private, but had some stern words for the teens. “For young adults to exhibit so little common sense and good judgment is appalling,” she said.
We all know videotape cannot tell the whole story, but if Judge Bailey-Lewis watched it and found conflicting reports in Williams’ testimony and what was on the tape, it’s understandable why she may have reduced the charges. Most telling on the tape, of course, is whether it can be determined whether Williams was indeed in on a prank, or actually the victim of a hate crime. Maybe the FBI should figure that one out?