DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- A judge who welcomed a former fugitive back to
her courtroom with balloons, streamers and a cake defended her actions
Wednesday, saying that getting a killer and abuser of women off the
streets is reason to celebrate.

Judge Faith Johnson threw the party Monday upon sentencing 53-year-old
Billy Wayne Williams to life in prison.

Williams, who previously served time in prison for killing his wife,
went on the lam a year ago while on trial in Johnson's court on
charges he choked his girlfriend until she passed out.
He was
convicted in absentia of aggravated assault.

"A full year later, he was recaptured, off the streets, and no longer
a community threat.
And, yes, I threw a party," the judge said in a

The judge said about 4 million U.S. women a year are physically abused
by their husbands or live-in partners, and some 30 percent of female
murder victims in this country are slain by their husbands or

"When these kind of stats begin to shrink, then we'll have cause to
celebrate," she said.
"Until then, this man's recapture --
particularly in national domestic violence month -- sends the message
that the law is against domestic violence."

The party for Williams troubled some legal experts, and Seana Willing,
executive director of Texas' Commission on Judicial Conduct, said the
incident may have violated requirements that judges remain impartial
and observe proper decorum.

The commission could decide to investigate, she said.
Judges found
guilty of misconduct face a range of discipline, from a warning to
removal from the bench.

Williams was captured last week at a gas station in suburban
While on the run, he posed as a lawyer and used aliases and
disguises, authorities said.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved.This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.