I thought for sure on Sunday I was going to see Texas Prosecutors up there...instead we see some DA from New York. I thought we were the enlightened ones in Texas with DWI & Murder.
Regardless, a good news story. When the defense attorney in the story says that despite a family on their daughter's wedding day, hit head-on on a highway with a driver going the wrong way with 3x the legal limit and a 8 years old child decapitated, we need to just think of this as a tragic "accident" with no intent to harm anyone. How he could hold a straight face, I don't know.
Posts: 293 | Location: San Antonio | Registered: January 27, 2004
Sounds like the decision to charge murder causes society to re-examine how it views a DWI. And that is the core purpose of the penal law: to change negative social behavior.
Frankly, I find the repeat drunk driver just as culpable for his predictable behavior as the killer who reacts under the isolated influence of drugs or sudden passion. Repeated criminal activity (in this case, getting into a car and driving while knowing you have had too much to drink) is a far more calculated decision than most criminals make.
The fact that the drunk is really sorry when he sobers up doesn't do much for me, because he had that opportunity before he started drinking, particularly given all the public education about the dangers of DWI.
Your average teenager coming out of high school gets an extraordinary amount of information about drinking, drugs and driving. Your average drunk driver has had even more warnings -- through the criminal justice system, his family, his church and the consequences of his drinking and driving.
I saw the story while waiting for the Mike Leach invterview. It was the same story which was told during the DWI seminar sponsored by TDCAA and one of the beer companies last year. Very compelling. But I think the way to combat DWIs is with tougher laws against driving with smaller amounts of alcohol, which might help curb the problem before the tragedies with such outrageous details come about. Going for a murder charge against this man might be just punishment for him, but it is not realistically going to deter the average drunk driver.
Posts: 29 | Location: Baird, TX USA | Registered: April 14, 2005
There is on difference between the Long Island case and Texas felony murder cases involving DWI deaths--the Long Island defendant was "first time offender" with no prior record. In Texas, DWI felony murder cases up to this point have involved individuals with prior DWI convictions. I can (sort of) understand the objection to convicting a person for murder arising out of a DWI accident death where the defendant has no prior convictions. But the thrust of the objections expressed in the CBS piece don't really work in the context of how felony murder has been applied in DWI accident-death cases in this state.
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001
You can sort of understand an objection to a murder in a DWI accident with a first-time offender? Why? Because it was his first time? Well, at least the first time he was caught.
Again, sorry your son/daughter/mother/father is dead, but it was the guy's first time after all. Should he REALLY be held so accountable for your loved one's death? Yes he was drunk, and yes his intoxication caused him to careen into the vehicle your loved one was driving (or onto the sidewalk where they were walking), but it was his FIRST TIME! We should go easier on him.
I don't mean offense, but that line of thinking is just assinine.
Posts: 34 | Location: Matagorda County, TX, USA | Registered: January 17, 2009
Texas has had a first offender DWI/Murder Prosecution. Edwin Bigon murdered a mother and child. He was DWI with his 8 year old son in the car when he crossed over the center stripe, killing two and leaving three trapped in the car with their dead mother and sister. He could have elected to have the jury assess his punishment, ranging from a sentence of community service upto 99 years or life. He elected to go the judge for punishment and was sentenced to 18 years. Having prosecuted the case, I would have preferred a jury to set punishment. I think, as I believe his lawyers did, a jury would have given him closer to 99 years.
The point is the offense of murder is defined by the statue. Mitigation, if any, is a punishment issue and if the judge or jury feels that it is ok to risk killing people because it is inconvenient to not drive while intoxicated, that is their call. But if some idiot, for the first time or the tenth time gets behind the wheel while intoxicated, they face the full range of punishment as set by statute and that range depends on both their conduct and the harm caused.
[This message was edited by John Greenwood on 01-17-09 at .]
Posts: 260 | Location: Lampasas, Texas, USA | Registered: November 29, 2007