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District Attorney Chase L. Studstill announces the conviction and sentencing of William “Billy” Welland

Alapaha Judicial Circuit District Attorney Chase L. Studstill announces the conviction and sentencing of William “Billy” Welland on June 5th, 2023, in the Superior Court of Lanier County. Welland entered a plea to avoid trial on several charges including the home invasion of a Lanier County resident and the aggravated assault of Lanier County Deputies. The case began on July 21st, 2020, when Welland, who was 37 years of age at the time, allegedly shot and killed an auto body shop employee in Tampa, Florida. Welland then stole a black Audi and made his way to Lakeland, Georgia. On July 22, 2020, the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office became involved after deputies were dispatched to Old Stockton Road in Lakeland, Georgia for a home invasion in which the homeowner was shot and Welland attempted to steal his vehicle. Welland then drove to Crisp School Road in Lanier County and entered another residence stealing the homeowner’s mini-van. Lanier County deputies later witnessed Welland in the stolen mini-van and attempted to make a traffic stop. A short chase ensued before Welland pulled behind a residence on Highway 122 East and attempted to run. While on foot, Welland pointed firearms at officers and gunfire was exchanged. One officer was grazed by a shot fired by Welland and had to be treated later at the Lanier Campus of South Georgia Medical Center. Welland was shot approximately eight times in the shootout by deputies but survived his injuries. The victim of the first Lanier County home invasion received serious injuries after being shot in the head by Welland. The victim was taken to South Georgia Medical Center for treatment. According to District Attorney Studstill, “the victim of the first home invasion survived but received permanent and lifelong injuries at the hands of William Welland.”

Welland avoided trial by entering a plea to two counts of armed robbery, two counts of home invasion, aggravated assault, four counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer; aggravated cruelty to animal; and two counts of theft by taking. Prior to handing down his sentence, Chief Superior Court Judge Clayton Tomlinson heard a powerful victim impact statement from the brother and sister of the victim of the home invasion and aggravated assault. With a picture displayed of their brother in a hospital bed almost three years after Welland’s crimes, they told the Court that their brother would never be the same. “He is serving a worse sentence than the defendant ever will. He will be able to get up and move around. Our brother will not.” Chief Judge Tomlinson sentenced Welland to life followed by ten years for the crimes he committed in Georgia.

District Attorney Studstilll went on to state that “There was considerable pressure to have Mr. Welland extradited to Florida to have Florida officials prosecute him for the alleged homicides in Tampa. However, we felt that it was important that the Georgia victims of this man’s rampage be given some justice even though it has forever changed their lives, and they can never be made whole. The devastation that this man caused in our community will never be forgotten. He shot a Lanier County Deputy on her first day on the job. He shot a Lanier County man in the head leaving him with lifelong physical injuries and lifelong emotional and psychological injuries. That man and his family will never be the same.”

I would like to thank the law enforcement officers involved in apprehending this individual and investigating this case. Several different agencies were involved including the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Corrections, Lanier County Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Their bravery, professionalism and hard work in this case is something that the citizens of our community should be proud of. Without their heroism, there is no telling what further devastation this man would have visited upon our community. I would also like to thank the employees from my office that worked on this case. Administrative Assistants Flor Pinedaand Alyson Bridges, our Victim Advocate Cindy Odum, and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Smith worked tirelessly to prepare this case for trial.”

Welland is currently being extradited to Florida for prosecution for the crimes he allegedly committed there.

William Welland

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