A judge welcomed a former fugitive back to her courtroom with balloons, streamers and a cake before sentencing him to life in prison.
"You just made my day when I heard you had finally come home," Judge Faith Johnson told Billy Wayne Williams, who had been convicted in absentia of aggravated assault after he disappeared a year ago. "We're so excited to see you, we're throwing a party for you."
Williams, 53, who has a criminal record dating to the 1970s, was accused of choking his girlfriend until she passed out. He failed to appear for his trial last November and was finally captured Thursday at a gas station in suburban Arlington.
Before he was brought into the courtroom on Monday, the judge directed staff members as they placed balloons and streamers around the courtroom. A colorful cake was decorated with his name and one candle to signify the year he spent on the lam.