The prosecutors sought a potential 15 year prison term for the twenty-eight year old defendant who pleaded guilty to the charge of intoxication manslaughter to a jury. At trial, the prosecution intended the 14 year prison term to correspond with the defendant’s 0.14% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.
Two months prior to the drunk driving collision, a Bandera County judge had given the defendant probation for his first DWI conviction. The defendant’s defense attorney Tylden Shaeffer provided a strong and convincing argument, pointing out the fact that while there was no excuse for his client’s mistakes, he is now a different person whose remarkable recovery from a serious brain injury shouldn’t be wasted. ““[My client’s] treating neurologist told you that his survival from this crash was remarkable; he further testified that his recovery has been miraculous. Don’t waste this by handing this young man a long prison sentence. As you decide his punishment, remember what you heard during this entire tiral, and ask yourself this one question: what purpose is served by throwing him away in prison for a very long time?” Shaeffer said during closing arguments.
The defendant admitted that he was drunk when he rear-ended another vehicle on April 17, 2008, on the Loop 1604 and Interstate 10 interchange that killed his female passenger and friend, 23, who was thrown from the rear of his motorcycle at the time of the crash. Though he was the survivor of the tragic accident, the defendant suffered severe brain damage and said that he wanted to help prevent others from making the same mistakes.
After listening to both sides of the case, State District Judge Lori Valenzuela quickly decided upon the terms of the 28-year-old’