HOUSTON, Texas – Following a shocking sentencing hearing, a Houston woman was sentenced to 60 years in prison for killing Deputy Sheriff Jesse Valdez, III, in 2014 while driving under the influence of drugs. The vehicle she was driving crossed into oncoming traffic and hit the police car head on.
During the sentencing hearing, a tape was played in the courtroom of a phone recording made from one of Kelly Jo Ivey’s calls from the jail to her mother while she was awaiting trial, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Brian Rogers. “I drive high all the time,” she said on the tape.
Rogers wrote that a gasp could be heard across the courtroom and deputies present in the courtroom shook their heads in dismay. Hours later, the jury would return a verdict of 60 years, which means she must serve at least 30 years before becoming eligible for parole. At age 30 now, the sixty year sentence for intoxication manslaughter has virtually the same impact as a life sentence would have had.
The sentence was handed down late Friday afternoon. It came as thousands of Houstonians were preparing to march in Northwest Harris County in memory of another slain deputy, Darren Goforth. The deputy was executed simply for wearing a uniform on Friday night, September 4th. The suspect in that shooting, Shannon Miles, remains in the Harris County Jail awaiting his trial.
In the days after the crash, prosecutors claimed the Ivey admitted to getting high before the crash, according to a KRTK ABC13 report. Toxicology reports would later confirm that she was indeed driving while impaired.
Ivey’s attorneys had attempted to claim it was Harris County Deputy Sheriff Jesse Valdez III who actually crossed the road and struck her car. Rogers wrote that the jury did not buy that argument.
The woman had a prior criminal record related to drugs. She received a two year prison sentence in March, 2014 for possession of drugs. Seven months later the state parole board would grant her parole. She was released on October 2nd. Twenty-six days later, after also missing her appointment with her parole officer, Ivey would crash her Chevy Suburban into the patrol car, killing Deputy Valdez.
Bob Price serves as senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.