Drunk Driver Sentenced To 15 Years In Crash That Killed Woman, Injured 7-Year-Old


TEXARKANA, Texas–A man who caused a fatal head-on crash last year on State Line Avenue in Texarkana was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.

Christopher Telles, 43, appeared with Texarkana lawyer John Pickett on Monday before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. As part of a plea agreement, Telles received a 15-year-term for intoxication manslaughter–just shy of the 20-year maximum–and a maximum 10-year term for intoxication assault. Both sentences will run concurrently.

The plea deal means that the injured boy won’t have to testify about the traumatic event.

Telles, of Granbury, Ark., has been in jail since his arrest on the night of Sept. 2, 2022, by members of the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department.

Telles spoke with slurred speech and admitted to drinking a few beers following a wreck Sept. 2 that took the life of Marolin Gardner, according to a probable cause affidavit. Gardner was slumped over the wheel of a 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan and a 7-year-old boy traveling with her appeared to be in “significant pain” when officers arrived at the scene at around 10 p.m.

The boy was transported via ambulance to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken leg that could require surgery, the affidavit said. Gardner was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Tiguan and a 2015 Dodge Ram pickup were both in the southbound lane of State Line, with the Tiguan facing south and the Ram facing north, according to the affidavit.

Telles replied, “Ain’t no doubt about it,” when asked if he’d been drinking before the crash and exclaimed, “Just call my lawyer, I can’t do that,” when asked to perform a “walk and turn” field sobriety test by officers. Telles reported that he’d been at a local watering hole, The Crazy Horse Saloon, playing pool and drinking Bud Lights before the crash.

Telles refused when asked if he would allow staff at a local hospital to draw a sample from him for blood alcohol testing and resisted when presented with a warrant, the affidavit said. Officers had to hold Telles in a chair until he cooperated with the procedure.

After being cleared by medical personnel, Telles was taken to the Bowie County jail and has remained there since, unable to post a $1.25 million bond.

The state was represented by the Bowie County District Attorney’s Office.

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