COLUMBUS — A former police sergeant in Georgia pleaded guilty Monday to the murder of a paramedic he was having an affair with and was sentenced to life in prison.
The Ledger-Enquirer reported former Columbus Officer William “Bill” Talley III pleaded guilty to felony murder, aggravated assault and using a gun to commit a crime in the 2019 shooting death of paramedic Kelly Levinsohn.
Charges of malice murder and violating his oath of office as a police officer against Talley were dropped as part of a plea bargain.
Talley could be paroled after 30 years in prison. The gun charge would add five years of probation to his sentence after any release.
The plea and sentence followed 90 minutes of testimony from relatives of Talley and Levinsohn. Witnesses testifying remotely described their grief at Levinsohn’s death, as well as the pain caused by Talley’s actions, reporting those were fueled in part by depression, alcoholism and a desire to kill himself.
Talley and Levinsohn were having an affair that Talley’s wife Rebecca Talley knew about, yet she continued to support him, according to testimony.
Rebecca Talley testified that she hoped Levinsohn could help him. “Kelly came into our lives when Bill was broken and vulnerable,” she said, adding Levinsohn cared for him even when “he was at his worst.”
Talley told Judge Gil McBride that he wished he would have done “just one thing” to stop what happened.
Levinsohn’s mother Wylma Levinsohn said reminders of her daughter’s death are daily occurrences.
If an ambulance passes, she has to remember not to look to see if Kelly is driving. If Kelly’s beloved dog Finley acts up, she has to remember she can’t share that moment with her daughter.
“I think about her when her dog does something funny, and I can’t send her a picture,” she said.
Gary Levinsohn, the victim’s brother, said he cleaned the crime scene, and that he can’t forget the blood splattered on the walls.
“The wounds have not and never will heal,” he said.
Talley shot Levinsohn before driving the paramedic’s truck to Harris County, where he wrecked off Interstate 185 and threatened to kill himself, holding officers at bay. Talley eventually surrendered. He was hospitalized with crash-related injuries from which he later recovered. None of his pursuers were hurt.
An open records request showed officers were called to Levinsohn’s home in 2018 when Talley threatened to kill himself. Talley was placed on administrative leave and later suspended for one day without pay for violating department policy on alcohol consumption. He was later deemed fit for duty and returned to work.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com