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Grand Jury Indicts Man for ATV Death of Child in Terrell Park


bullets13

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  • 1 year later...

A no brainer verdict. Manslaughter in Texas is to recklessly kill a person.

 The difference between being reckless and criminally negligent is that criminal negligence is a head up your butt accident. An example is a person not paying attention when he should.

Being reckless is an intentional accident. That is not a quote but it is the effect of the law. An intentional accident is where a person intentionally committed the dangerous act but the result was an accident.

In this case the man intentionally drove an ATV where prohibited. That intentional act caused the death of  child. While the accident and death were almost certainly an accident, getting on an ATV, starting the engine and driving where prohibited and where people felt protected, was not an accident.

That by definition is reckless.

Criminal negligence as an example would be driving down the road legally but not paying attention and accidentally running off the road. There was no intent to run off the road which is the head up your butt accident. 

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This is the quoted definition of reckless. 

(c) A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.

You can see that is says “he is aware of but consciously disregards” the substantial risk.

Criminal negligence quoted is:

 (d) A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.

 You can see the difference is “ought to be aware of” the substantial risk.

So reckless is aware of the risk and says to heck with it. Criminal negligence is you should have been paying attention. 

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15 hours ago, tvc184 said:

This is the quoted definition of reckless. 

(c) A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.

You can see that is says “he is aware of but consciously disregards” the substantial risk.

Criminal negligence quoted is:

 (d) A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.

 You can see the difference is “ought to be aware of” the substantial risk.

So reckless is aware of the risk and says to heck with it. Criminal negligence is you should have been paying attention. 

What was up with that verdict?  Any idea on how it will be handled?

For those unaware, the Defendant was facing a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison due to 2 or more prior felony convictions (aka habitual offender).  Jury sentenced him to 10 years (well below the minimum of the range they were given). 

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6 hours ago, TxHoops said:

What was up with that verdict?  Any idea on how it will be handled?

For those unaware, the Defendant was facing a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison due to 2 or more prior felony convictions (aka habitual offender).  Jury sentenced him to 10 years (well below the minimum of the range they were given). 

The only thing that I can figure is that someone in the jury room pitched a fit at the 25 your minimum as a habitual violator and others went along with it. 

I am sure that the district attorney presented evidence that he was in fact a habitual violator. As you said, the penalty range for a habitual violator is 25-99 years. So at a minimum they had to assess at least 25 years.

It seems like they went with only Manslaughter and its  2-20 option and ignored his prior felonies.

Of course a jury does not know that but after finding him guilty, they could’ve hung the jury in the penalty phase. There should then be a new trial on the penalty phase only.

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3 hours ago, tvc184 said:

The only thing that I can figure is that someone in the jury room pitched a fit at the 25 your minimum as a habitual violator and others went along with it. 

I am sure that the district attorney presented evidence that he was in fact a habitual violator. As you said, the penalty range for a habitual violator is 25-99 years. So at a minimum they had to assess at least 25 years.

It seems like they went with only Manslaughter and its  2-20 option and ignored his prior felonies.

Of course a jury does not know that but after finding him guilty, they could’ve hung the jury in the penalty phase. There should then be a new trial on the penalty phase only.

I would have thought they would have been voir dired on the range of punishment though.  As you know, you can do that without discussing the priors. But maybe they decided not to for that reason.  In any event, seems like an automatic remand on punishment.  But maybe the DA’s office lets it go and they go with the 10 years.  Honestly from what I’ve read re: the facts of the case (I know that’s a dangerous way to base opinions), 10 years might be a just sentence in this case.  25 to life seems a bit harsh for recklessness but I also realize the point of having the habitual statute and sounds like the guy was well past felony number 3.  

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2 hours ago, TxHoops said:

I would have thought they would have been voir dired on the range of punishment though.  As you know, you can do that without discussing the priors. But maybe they decided not to for that reason.  In any event, seems like an automatic remand on punishment.  But maybe the DA’s office lets it go and they go with the 10 years.  Honestly from what I’ve read re: the facts of the case (I know that’s a dangerous way to base opinions), 10 years might be a just sentence in this case.  25 to life seems a bit harsh for recklessness but I also realize the point of having the habitual statute and sounds like the guy was well past felony number 3.  

I have seen cases where the verdict doesn’t seem to match the under oath answers in voir dire. An example is a person not believing in the death penalty but doing voir dire it is typically asked if a person can “consider” the full range of punishment.

I didn’t know that the state could appeal a punishment. 

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7 hours ago, tvc184 said:

I have seen cases where the verdict doesn’t seem to match the under oath answers in voir dire. An example is a person not believing in the death penalty but doing voir dire it is typically asked if a person can “consider” the full range of punishment.

I didn’t know that the state could appeal a punishment. 

Very true on voir dire.  But that should have eliminated the shock of the punishment range. 
 

I have the same understanding on the state’s ability to appeal.  But I have also never seen a verdict outside of punishment range other than one case where the fine exceeded the punishment range (read the case once) and the CoA remanded for the fine portion only (and that was obviously the Defendant appealing).  No idea if the state has same restriction for an illegal verdict.  My guess is they are going to go with it or the state would have asked for a new trial.  Again, probably the right result all the way around (in my largely uninformed opinion anyway). 

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