A 68-year-old Kemp man received life in prison last week after a Kaufman County jury found him guilty of killing his wife.
William Simons was given a life sentence on May 20 for the murder of Roxie Quilter. The jury deliberated Simons’ sentence for around 10 minutes before sentencing Simons to life in prison.
Simon’s attorney argued that his client murdered Quilter after being stricken by a sudden passion, which in Texas can lead to a shorter sentence. The altercation that led to the shooting began with a burnt hamburger, according to a recorded interview with Simons done by police.
“This is clearly a sudden passion case, folks,” he said. “When you’ve known someone for 15 years, they know how to push your buttons.”
The jury did not opt for the sudden passion charge. Because of prior convictions, Simons would not have been eligible for a more lenient sentencing if the jury deemed the murder a sudden passion killing.
William Simons was arrested on March 11, 2013.
The murder trial began on May 18, Simons was found guilty on May 19 and the sentencing phase of the trial took place on May 20.
The prosecution began by calling the lead detective – Sgt. Philip Stewart of the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department – who responded to the shooting.
Assistant District Attorneys Harrington and Watly then played a recording of Stewart’s interview of Simons conducted a few hours after his initial arrest.
Stewart said Simons was read his Miranda Rights and waived his right to have an attorney present and his right to not speak with the police.
During the recording Simons gives a detailed account of the evening, telling the detective he wanted to turn himself in to the authorities because he “was wrong.”
“I’m guilty,” Simons said during the interview. “That’s all there is to it.”
“We got into it and one thing led to another. I went into the back room where I had this pistol and I shot her. Plain and simple,” Simons said during the recorded interview in 2013.
Stewart’s investigation found that Quilter was shot twice, once through the leg and once in the chest, just below the neck, he told prosecutors.
Simons told Stewart in 2013 that after he retrieved his handgun from the back room he went back into the living room and shot at Quilter who was sitting in her armchair watching television. He meant to shoot wide of her to scare her, he said.
“I thought I was going to scare her real good … but I got too close,” he said.
Simons told the investigators that he thought he had grazed her arm when quilter got up and tried to use her cell phone to call for help. Simons took the phone from Quilter and followed her onto the front porch as she yelled for help.
“She tried to run and I just wouldn’t let her run,” he said.
Simons then shot her a second time.
While saying he was in a panic and “too scared to take a pulse” Simons called several people including Quilter’s daughter, his own daughter, his sister and his former boss before calling 911. During the recorded interview Stewart asked Simons asked how much time elapsed between the second shooting and a call to 911.
“15 minutes at the most,” Simons responded.
Simons told the investigators that he doesn’t know why he went to get his gun, telling them he had never used it to try to scare Quilter before.
“I can’t explain it,” he said.
The prosecutors then walked through crime-scene photos with Stewart – corroborating Simon’s 2013 interview – by placing the gun, Quilter’s cell phone and several blood stains at the scene.
The defense did not cross-examine Stewart on Monday, electing to adjourn until Tuesday morning.
The trail was expected to last until Wednesday. Check The Kaufman Herald’s website for an update of the story under the “Hot News” tab on the home page.