HOUSTON -- The man who killed a 17-year-old in a road rage incident as the teen's family was heading home from a Houston Astros game will spend 30 years in prison.
Gerald Williams pleaded guilty to murder and accepted a plea deal on Tuesday.
Williams shot and killed David Castro as he, his brother, and their dad, Paul, were heading home from an Astros game on July 6, 2021.
Police said the Castros encountered Williams, who was driving a white sedan, on Chartres Street. Williams ended up following the family onto I-10 for almost five miles to the 600 block of McCarty Street before shooting several times into their back window, according to police.
David was hit in the head. Paul and his other son were not injured.
Williams was previously convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. In February 2020, he was released after serving 12 years behind bars.
Williams was sentenced to 30 years in prison for David's death. Had he gone to trial, punishment would have ranged from 15 years to 99 to life. The case was set for a jury trial that was coming up.
"It's been 18 months and two weeks. This is the first time I've felt a little bit of peace," Paul said outside of the courtroom on Tuesday, adding that Williams had not apologized and that he doesn't forgive him.
"When a person apologizes, what they're asking for from the person they are apologizing to is, 'I want you to bear the weight that is unbearable, and I want you to take the responsibility from me.' And so, what Mr. Williams would be doing, in this case, would be turning to me and saying, 'Paul, I stole your son, and that can never be repaid. I am asking for forgiveness in exchange for that you have to bear this on your own,' but it starts with an apology, and he's never apologized therefore, I'm not going to forgive him," Paul explained.
Paul explained that he and his family agreed to the plea deal and were pleased with the outcome because it would spare the Castros from having to relive what happened that night in 2021. The father added that he didn't want his other son to have to take the witness stand.
"They show on the news when people yell and scream, and I wanted to do that. I wanted to do a lot of things, but I realized that none of that is going to bring my son back," Paul said. "I don't know how he is as a person, but I needed him to know that that night he caused terror in my sons, and one of them didn't make it. I hope he dreams that every night for the next, however many years he lives, because every night I go to bed with that image in my head."
Paul said he hopes that drivers will remember his son and the others who have lost their lives during road rage incidents the next time they face an inconvenience on the road and let it go.
"It's still happening, but we've seen a decrease, and I'm hoping that part of the reason for that is they remember this story and they say to themselves, 'I don't want to be a child killer. I don't want to accidentally shoot into the backseat and hit a car seat or a 17-year-old National Merit Scholar," he said.
Paul said that over 100 tips came in during the investigation.
According to records, Williams owned a white Buick, matching the description of the shooter's car, which was later found burned in a field near his home. Records also show his cellphone placed him in the area at the time of the shooting.
David Mitcham, first assistant district attorney of the Harris County Chief of Courts, was asked about parole but noted that any release would be up to the governor's office and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Mitcham added that though Williams would be eligible for parole after a period of time, that doesn't mean he'd be granted an early release.
A member of Williams' defense team told ABC13, ABC7's sister station in Houston, that what happened was a tragedy, and he wanted to take responsibility.