3-month sentence for man who bought, supplied alcohol to Laurel Williams

Family of teen killed in drunken driving crash on Foothill Road gives emotional testimony at court hearing

A 22-year-old man charged with buying and supplying alcohol to minors at a party in connection with the death of Laurel Williams pleaded no contest at the Pleasanton courthouse Thursday morning.

As part of a plea deal reached between the man, Paul Stonebarger of Brentwood, and the Williams family, Stonebarger will serve three months in county jail.

Williams, 19, was killed Oct. 20, 2007 in a drunken driving crash on Foothill Road. Her friend, Katie McKewon, now 20, who was behind the wheel, is serving a four-year sentence at Chowchilla State Prison for gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing great bodily injury.

Stonebarger had faced up to one year in jail for purchasing large quantities of alcohol at a Dublin liquor store for a house party attended by Williams and McKewon that was held in Pleasanton the night before the crash.

Friends and family members of Williams gave emotional testimony before Stonebarger's sentencing, saying their lives are forever changed.

"Nothing will bring back by best friend," said Stephanie Rodriguez. "I miss her more and more every day."

Rodriquez said she couldn't believe that Stonebarger "dropped Laurel and Katie off at their car when they were in no shape to drive."

Laurel Williams' cousin Kim Pace said she questions whether Stonebarger has any remorse for the role he played in Williams' death. She said he continues to live a party lifestyle.

"Actions speak louder than words," she said. "You were at a bar the same day you went to the first court hearing."

Judge Christine Moruza admonished Stonebarger, saying he bragged on his Facebook page about drinking and partying for his birthday in Las Vegas recently.

"This is so ghastly inappropriate," Moruza said. "I'm just so stunned you would do that. It shows a complete lack of remorse. Someday, you'll be a man. You're not one right now."

The feelings of anger were visible in father Ken Williams, when he directed his testimony to Stonebarger, looking him in the eyes the entire time. Saying it's a struggle for him to get out of bed every day, Williams said Stonebarger may not have been the drunk driver, but he should have used better judgment in taking his daughter and McKewon to their car.

"It's kind of like you put the bullets in the gun," he said.

"You don't get it, man," he continued. "You're just trying to get by. Hopefully, you do get it someday."

Ken Williams said he hopes Stonebarger would take this tragedy and make something positive out of it by speaking to students in high schools about his experiences. Stonebarger's attorney told the judge his client, who didn't speak at the hearing, would like to do that.

The most emotional testimony was made by Kathy Pace Williams, Laurel's mother, who brought framed photographs of her daughter.

She recalled favorite memories she and her only child shared.

"We would dance in front of the fireplace," she said through tears. "We'd cuddle on the couch."

Pace Williams said she'll never get the chance to see her daughter get married or have children.

When her daughter and Stonebarger first started dating, Pace Williams said "I told you you were carrying my precious cargo and don't give her any alcohol. You said she was your precious cargo, too."

She added that she plans to lobby in the State Assembly for tougher sentences for supplying to minors.

As part of Stonebarger's sentencing, he will be placed on probation. If the terms of probation are violated, he could spend another 90 days in jail. Any car he operates is required to have an ignition interlock device for one year and he is required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week for eight months. He will also pay a $1,000 fine and is not allowed to have Facebook or MySpace pages for three years. Restitution for the Williams family and a woman who was also injured in the crash will be determined at a later date.

The Williams family will soon offer a $2,000 scholarship for a Las Positas College student trasferring to a four-year school through the newly-formed Laurel Alice Williams Foundation. There will also be a dinner and silent auction for the foundation and to honor Laurel Williams' 21st birthday, which would have been June 10, on June 5 at Crow Canyon Country Club in San Ramon. A website for the foundation, will be up shortly. In the meantime, questions can be sent to

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1 person likes this
Posted by Hot Sam
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 26, 2009 at 5:18 pm

The judge was too lenient, in my opinion. She says "Someday, you'll be a man. You're not one right now." She's half right. Will Stony turn into a real man some day? At the moment he's a 22-year-old punk. I don't think 3 months in jail will do it.

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Posted by Another Gatetree Resident
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 27, 2009 at 5:48 am

Hot Sam -- The plea deal between Paul Stonebarger and the Williams family tied the judges hands relative to sentencing. While Judge Christine Moruza's words could have been more direct and harsh, the sentence was what the parties involved agreed to.

This is such a senseless tragedy and I commend the Williams family for their efforts to lobby the State Assembly in her daughter's memory.

1 person likes this
Posted by Steamed Parent
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 27, 2009 at 8:30 am

This is really a tragedy for future victims of those that supply alcohol to minors. 3 months is not an adequate sentence. 3 years would be more appropriate.

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Posted by kathy scott
a resident of Rosewood
on Mar 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

3 months in jail is way too lenient. This young man does not get it and appears completely unremorseful. Minimum 1 year in prison (not jail) would be more appropriate.

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Posted by What
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Mar 28, 2009 at 5:14 pm

No Facebook or myspace pages? How stupid.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 29, 2009 at 1:01 am

When is a judge's hands tied due to a plea deal between a defendant and the victims family. He could simply reject the deal and apply his/her own sentence. After all, he/she is the judge making the final decision...

According to the article, this guy was seen in a bar the day of his first hearing and continued to "party" through this whole ordeal. He apparently hasn't learned anything from his part in this tragedy...

I agree with kathy scott. He contributes to the death of a young woman, plus severe injuries to an innocent motorist, and only receives three months in county jail. People caught with "illegal smoking stuff for sale" have received more time in prison than this guy faces in county jail...


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:32 am

I'll bet his parents are proud of him!!!

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Posted by mary
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

We're all still trying to point a finger. Problem is, no one ever wants to look at the parents of the home who left these kids UNATTENDED which nearly always leads to unrestrained drinking and drub use. I think they are evenly culpable. If this young man hadn't bought the alcohol, then the next person would have. It is far to easy to obtain. We have to stop the venues for drinking, too, and that means the empty homes!

I'm a little perturbed with everyone for continually ignoring that point. No one (parents?) ever seems to want to hold adults (parents?) accountable.

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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2009 at 11:52 am

Do you know these parents? Most parents are trying their best but can't always watch these young adults every minute. Every parent says a silent prayer each time their son/daughter leaves their homes. We all hope and pray that they will make the right choices, be safe and return home to us. You are very lucky that you have not felt such pain. What punishment would you like to see for the parents? I myself will pray for them and not pass judgment.

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Posted by fred
a resident of Avignon
on Apr 1, 2009 at 4:23 pm

No doubt Paul made a terrible mistake and his behavior since the incident has been unbelievable stupid and filled with poor judgement. All the blame for this tragedy, however, is not his. These young women made bad choices too and one of them paid the ulitmate price for making errors in judgement.

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Posted by Judy
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2009 at 6:04 am

I agree with with Fred, all three of these kids made bad choices.

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Posted by concerned
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

No facebook for 3 years? He has one now and its been active for a few months.

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Posted by Outraged mom
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2012 at 1:48 am

I just found out that he has been coaching an AAU girls high school basketball team in his hometown. He should not even be allowed to be coaching young girls! This is SO wrong and inappropriate!

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