LSU baseball signee Dylan Williams remained in a Georgia jail Thursday, two days after his arrest along with six other people in a drug task-force raid following a monthlong investigation into an Ecstasy operation.
Williams, 18, was denied bond by Bartow County Magistrate Court Judge Thomas E. Moseley on felony counts of trafficking Ecstasy, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and felony possession of a firearm. He remained in custody of the Sheriff’s Office at the county jail.
The arrest is an ill-timed entanglement for a right-handed power pitcher out of Cass High School, where Williams’ fastball touched the low 90s and helped him lead the state’s Class 4A with 106 strikeouts this past season.
Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force searched a home on Benfield Circle in Cartersville, a town of 19,800 located roughly 45 miles northwest of Atlanta. It discovered roughly 7 ounces of a high-grade MDMA powder — known as “Molly” — and a large quantity of marijuana along with a handgun, task force Capt. Leslie Cheek said.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he learned of the arrest Wednesday night and spoke with Williams’ father Thursday morning, but he had yet to speak with Williams. From his conversation, Mainieri said it was his understanding that the incoming freshman “happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Mainieri said Williams’ father told him the pitcher had gone to the home to pick up a high school friend to get a bite to eat and “do what kids do” and “police broke into a house he doesn’t even live in, and next thing you know he’s accused of something.”
“They obviously feel he’s been wrongfully accused of something,” Mainieri said. “It’s definitely the strangest thing that I’ve ever heard of. As you might imagine, there’s a kid who feels his world is crumbling all around and him and knows he did nothing wrong. If he’s telling the truth, he didn’t do anything wrong.”
On Tuesday night, the task force arrested Christopher Lee Willingham, 24, who lived at the Cartersville home, during a traffic stop on Interstate 75 for possession of marijuana and improper tag display. After arresting Willingham, officers raided the house, which is home to Brandon Etheridge, 18 and a Cass baseball teammate of Williams. Dustin Bush, 18, also was arrested and faces the same charges.
“It wasn’t a simultaneous thing,” Cheek said of the arrests.
While executing the search warrant, Etheridge, Williams and Samuel Ayers, 18, another Cass player, were arrested and charged with the same felony counts. Timothy Glen Etheridge, 54, and Christi Lynn Etheridge, 49, were arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession.
It remains unclear whether Williams was arrested as part of the trafficking operation or simply was a victim of poor circumstance and timing. Also lacking are any details regarding the nature of the raid, such as where in the house police took the pitcher into custody.
Cheek said he could not comment specifically on Williams’ involvement, and an incident report outlining the arrest remains withheld as the task force continues its investigation.
“I can tell you that this was a prolonged investigation,” Cheek said. “It was not something that was instantaneous or by chance.”
Under Georgia statutes, Williams could face a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted of Ecstasy trafficking. A conviction on the marijuana charge could bring a sentence between one and 10 years in prison.