Judge gives thief two life sentences

William James (Russell Co. Sheriff's Office)
William James (Russell Co. Sheriff's Office)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -  The man Russell County authorities call a "one man crime wave" has learned his fate in prison.

William James, 39, received two consecutive life sentences Friday plus an additional 99 years.

Buster Landreau, Chief Deputy for the Russell County District Attorney's Office, says James went on a crime spree for months, leaving six different victims in his wake.

Last year, James broke into Gil's Auto Sales in February, getting away with $12,000 cash and $6,000 in checks. Several months later in May, he tried to break into the business again.

In June, he stole a pick-up truck and drove it into a convenience store, stealing the ATM holding $6-8,000 cash. He tried to steal the ATM a second time another night but couldn't get it up and out of the store.

Later that month, he stole a 16 foot trailer from a job site along with a backhoe. He used the backhoe to ram an ATM at Wachovia Bank and loaded it onto the trailer. The machine ended up falling off the stolen trailer on Broad Street in Phenix City and when it was recovered, it had $60,000 inside.

James ran the stolen truck into the convenience store a third time but he couldn't get the ATM out.

On June 24th, a Lee County deputy found him behind a vacant house in Lee County with the stolen truck and trailer. A car chase between the two ended in Phenix City with James being arrested.

Landreau says James committed all of the crimes while he was awaiting trial on a manslaughter charge in Henry County, Alabama, stemming from a car accident.

He was on parole from Texas, where Landreau says he was caught with a few hundred pounds of marijuana.

A jury found James guilty of several different counts of burglary, robbery and theft. Russell County Judge Al Johnson sentenced him Friday afternoon.

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