SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A Tyler man was charged with manslaughter in connection to the April 2022 death of a 17-year-old.
Records show that 27-year-old Billy Bernard Maddox, Jr. was indicted for manslaughter in the overdose death of Preston Hawley. In September 2022, Maddox was charged with tampering/fabricating with intent to impair evidence and bonded out the same day. He was later arrested on a manslaughter charge on May 26 in connection to the same case.
According to an arrest warrant, Hawley used to live with Maddox before moving back home with his mother, but continued hanging out with Maddox on weekends. The warrant states that detectives were told Maddox was “a known drug dealer.”
On the afternoon of April 23, 2022, Tyler police detectives were called to a hospital in response to a patient who died of an apparent overdose, identified as Hawley. Hawley was brought to the hospital wearing pants, a belt, socks and no shirt, shoes or cell phone, according to court documents. Documents state that Maddox stayed at the hospital and spoke with detectives.
The warrant outlines reasons detectives gave for Maddox’s first arrest, including claiming that Maddox misled investigators to the wrong location of Hawley’s overdose, failed to disclose the location of Hawley’s cell phone and moved items out of his own apartment the night of and morning after Hawley’s death. A Tyler detective said she had reason to believe that the illegal drugs linked to Hawley’s death, including cocaine and fentanyl, were destroyed.
Maddox allegedly told detectives that he and Hawley went to a party around 3 a.m. that day, then went to a house on Loblolly Lane around 5 a.m. to sleep. At that time, documents show that Maddox claimed Hawley was coherent and did not appear to be under the influence of any substances.
Detectives said Maddox told them that he attempted to wake Hawley up, and assumed Hawley was “in a deep sleep” when he would not wake up. At that time, Maddox reportedly said he left the Loblolly Lane house to go to the fair in the Broadway Square Mall parking lot before returning and finding that Hawley was still asleep.
Maddox then reportedly told detectives that he tried to wake Hawley again by throwing water on him and attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and at that time could feel a faint pulse and labored breathing. Court documents state that Maddox then called Hawley’s mother “and said Hawley was breathing slowly and his heartbeat is going slow. She told Maddox to get him to the hospital.”
With no vehicle to drive, Maddox later told detectives he flagged down a stranger who he claimed was driving through the Loblolly Lane neighborhood, per the warrant. Detectives later found the stranger, who said he was approached by a man at a gas station at Rieck Road and Old Bullard Road.
“The driver said when he came out of the gas station, the black male approached him and said he needed his help to take his friend to the hospital because he believed his friend was overdosing,” according to the warrant. “The driver stated the black male left on foot and he drove his truck to follow the black male.”
The driver reportedly told a detective with Tyler PD that he drove west on Rieck Road before turning into the second driveway of an apartment building, saying “he observed a young white male laying in the grass unconscious.”
The driver said he put Hawley in the backseat of his truck, also allegedly telling authorities that the man who had approached him was “acting strange and seemed like he was stalling. The driver stated he almost left the black male because of the time he was wasting.”
In the warrant, detectives said they did not find any of Hawley’s belongings, including his cell phone, shoes, shirt, car keys or vehicle at the Loblolly Lane house. “We did not have any indication that Hawley or Billy Maddox had been at the residence,” the detective wrote.
According to court documents, a search warrant of Hawley’s phone records revealed that Hawley’s phone location shows him at the address of the Finley Apartments on Old Bullard Road from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m., then shows his location to be at the emergency room on S. Broadway Avenue at 5:30 p.m. “Later that evening the phone travels near Loop 49 and S. Broadway away from any known location in this investigation,” according to the warrant. The warrant’s retelling of Hawley’s phone records did not indicate that the phone was ever at the Loblolly Lane address.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for Maddox’s snapchat, where they reportedly saw messages where Maddox said, “Yess we getting all my stuff out my apartment kuz lil bro mom think I had some to do with it,” and another text that read, “Then his mom trynna make it seem like I sold him the pills n I don’t sell pills.” Detectives allegedly found other messages asking for “6 gs for $60” or a “40 bag” or asking Maddox if he has “tabs.”
A detective reported getting a screenshot from a friend of Hawley’s, dated April 23, 2022 at 4:19 p.m., allegedly posted by Maddox 24 minutes prior. The warrant describes the photo as showing Hawley passed out on a black leather couch with the caption “Look how that perc got him sleeping” with laughing face emojis.
Investigators later learned that Hawley’s toxicology report from his autopsy said he had cocaine, fentanyl, delta-9 THC and bromazolam in his system at the time of his death.
Judicial records show that Maddox has a bond review on Wednesday and a pre-trial appearance scheduled for Sept. 15. A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 25.