Texas Hands Down Heavy Sentences in Multiple DWI Convictions

DWI Crash
Photo: Scott Engle/Montgomery County Police Reporter

Following the conviction of a Texas man on his eighth DWI, a Hays County prosecutor asked the jury to send the 64-year-old man to prison for 99 years so “we can all sleep at night.” Six hours later the jury did just that.

The sentence follows other recently publicized sentences where people have been convicted for multiple drunk-driving offenses. One Texas man received six life-sentences following his sixth DWI arrest. This incident resulted in a crash when he was pulling into a liquor store. Two people were killed in the crash and a third person received life-altering injuries, the Houston Chronicle reported in late September. Another man in Montgomery County received a life sentence in June for his ninth DWI conviction, Montgomery County Police Reporter’s Scott Engle wrote.

The Hays County jury handed down the 99-year sentence to San Marcos, Texas, resident Jose Marin following his 8th conviction for driving under the influence. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Stalbaum said the sentence was the only way to prevent Marin from ever driving drunk again, the San Antonio Express-News reported on Friday.

Court records reveal that Marin was convicted in 1983 for his first DWI offense. He piled on a second offence the following year and in 1986 he earned his first jail sentence on his third conviction. That offense landed him in jail for 33 months.

Following a seven-year stretch of no arrests, Marin was again arrested and convicted for DWI in 1990. That conviction earned him a 5-year prison sentence, but in 1991 he was busted yet again. In 1998 he was arrested twice for DWI. Those convictions earned him 10 years and 25 years in prison respectively. He was yet again released early from prison after only serving five years.

His most recent offense occurred when a Hays County Sheriff’s deputy observed Marin weaving while driving 75 miles-per-hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone.

In another case, James Dean Shaw, 44, received six life-sentences for his May 2015 arrest following a crash that left two people dead and another severely injured. Shaw failed to yield as he was turning into a liquor store and crashed into a Jeep Patriot driven by Mindy Beth Richardson, a woman from Hardin, Texas, who was 8-months pregnant at the time of the crash, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Two of Shaw’s passengers were killed in the crash. Gerald Lynn Potts, Jr., 21, was killed instantly and John Real, Jr., 13, had to be removed from life support 10 days after the crash. Real died six days before his 14th birthday. A third passenger in Shaw’s car 13-year-old Joseph Winkelspecht, Jr., received a traumatic brain injury that left him hospitalized for several months. He is now confined to a wheelchair and is only now beginning to speak again.

Richardson and her now 1-year-old son Cael survived the crash after Cael was delivered by emergency C-section.

Shaw’s previous DWI convictions included two in Polk County in the early-1990s, one in Navarro County in the mid-1990s, and two in Oklahoma in 2005 and 2007. He also has other criminal convictions for theft, deadly conduct, and felon in possession of a firearm.

Another recent life-sentence for a multiply-convicted DWI offender was handed down in Montgomery County in June 2016. On May30, 2015, Donald Middleton, 56, crashed into a pickup truck driven by 16-year-old Joshua Hayden, the son of Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden, Engle reported for the Montgomery County Police Reporter.

Knowing this was his 9th DWI offense, he fled the scene and tried to convince store clerks to hide them. The witnesses told Hayden who he had hit and he reportedly said he didn’t care who he was. His pleas were caught on the store’s security system 11 times. He had a blood alcohol level of .184 which is more than twice the legal limit in Texas. Despite his previous multiple DWI convictions, Middleton’s Texas Driver License was still valid.

Following Middleton’s eighth DWI conviction in Harris County, he was sentenced to 13 years in a Texas prison.

Following testimony during the sentencing hearing, 359th District Court Judge Kathleen Hamilton wasted no time in coming to a decision. Following a 30-minute contemplation, Judge Hamilton handed down the life-sentence.

Surprisingly, Middleton’s Texas Driver License was valid at the time of his 8th DWI offense. While Texas law allows a driver convicted of DWI to have their license to drive suspended for up to two years, there currently is no provision to allow the state to permanently revoke the license of someone convicted of multiple DWI offenses, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Houston Chronicle cited a report from Texas A&M University’s Troy Walden, an expert on impaired driving, that stated fifty to seventy percent of offenders continue to drive even though their license  has been suspended.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.



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