Helen Ann Williams (copy) (copy)

Helen Ann Williams. File/North Charleston Police Department/Provided

A Moncks Corner woman who was reportedly suffering from mental health issues when she fatally stuck a man with a U-Haul truck in 2017 was given probation in lieu of prison time during a plea hearing Thursday. 

Helen Ann Williams, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of fleeing the scene of a crash resulting in death and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Markley Dennis to five years of probation in place of a 10-year prison term.

The 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office did not make a sentencing recommendation on the case. Williams' public defender, Mary Ford, highlighted her client's history of crippling anxiety and other issues. 

"Her anxiety is so great that I had concerns over the competency," Ford said, adding that further evaluation by a mental heath professional cleared her to move forward in the legal process. 

In September 2016, Williams had been stabbed several times, her attorney stated. The attack left her client suffering from physical injuries as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ford laid out at least eight instances since 2016 in which Williams had been hospitalized for mental health issues, including at least three instances where the hospitalization lasted more than a week. 

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Williams also had suffered repeated trauma at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, the attorney stated while reading from an account provided by her client's physician. 

What Williams needed was intensive medical supervision, Ford stated. 

As part of his sentence, Dennis included stipulations that the first year of Williams' probation be under intensive supervision during which she will be under house arrest at her mother's residence.

Williams was also required to submit to random drug and alcohol testing, which the judge noted was a way to check if she was regularly taking her prescribed medications for her mental health issues, as well as undergo any counseling deemed necessary.

On the day of the crash, Feb. 13, 2017, Williams was driving with 45-year-old Billy Vaughan, her significant other of some time, according to testimony during Thursday's hearing. 

Vaughan jumped from the U-Haul while they were driving in the parking lot of Northwoods Mall and was run over. Williams fled and was caught by authorities at her home in Moncks Corner.  

She admitted to investigators that she was driving the truck, ran over Vaughan and left the scene. 

County and state records show Williams has had run-ins with the law before and was previously charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and public intoxication. She pleaded guilty in August 2015 to second-degree assault and battery.

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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