gavel.jpgA judge today ordered a Tuolomne County man to stand trial on four counts of attempted murder for engaging in a gun battle with California Highway Patrol officers on Interstate Highway 580 in Oakland two years ago, allegedly while he was on his way to attack two organizations in San Francisco.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson ruled that prosecutors produced sufficient evidence at a preliminary hearing on Monday and today to justify having 46-year-old Byron Williams, of Groveland, go to trial on charges stemming from the incident, which occurred in July 2010.

Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty said Williams had “an arsenal of weapons” inside his Toyota pickup truck and that his actions made it clear that he intended to murder CHP officers who stopped him for two vehicle infractions, speeding and having a vehicle that needed repairs.

Williams, who is acting as his own attorney, said a CHP officer fired at him first and that he fired back in self-defense.

Moriarty said the shootout between Williams and the officers lasted about 20 minutes. It began shortly before midnight on July 18 and stretched into the early morning of July 19.

When Williams was arrested, police said they found evidence that he was on his way to San Francisco to shoot members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Tides, an organization that advocates progressive social change through philanthropy.

In addition to the four counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, Thompson ordered Williams to stand trial on three counts of being an ex-felon in possession of firearms, one count of being an ex-felon in possession of ammunition, and an enhancement clause for wearing body armor.

Williams is scheduled to return to court on April 11 to have a trial date set.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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