Woman gets 18 years for drunk driving fatality

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Bowie County jury deliberated for about three hours Thursday before handing down an 18-year sentence for a Texarkana woman who was drunk when she collided with a motorcycle on New Boston Road in Texarkana last year.

Callie Marie Jones, 58, had a blood alcohol level of .30, more than three times the legal limit of .08, when she struck Skylar Crenshaw’s motorcycle as he traveled eastbound on New Boston Road in the left lane at about 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3, 2017. Jones was attempting to cross New Boston Road from Reading Street onto Crockett when the crash occurred.

Crenshaw, a 29-year-old Iraq war veteran and father of eight, was thrown from his motorcycle and into a utility pole guide wire which completely severed his left arm from his body and nearly decapitated him, killing him instantly. Witnesses who testified at Jones’ trial struggled to contain their emotions when describing the event.

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Jones’ defense attorney, Joe Tyler of Texarkana, asked the jury to sentence Jones, who has no prior criminal convictions, to 10 or fewer years and recommend probation. Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards argued that Jones, who admitted during her testimony Wednesday to driving under the influence regularly for four or five years, deserves to serve penitentiary time for killing Crenshaw.

“When we say there was an accident, it implies it was nobody’s fault,” Crisp argued in closing remarks Thursday. “She made a choice.”

Richards told the jury that based on Jones’ admissions Thursday, she has driven drunk at least 1,200 times without being caught. Crisp expanded on Richards’ calculation, pointing out that a person is charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated in Texas for their first two offenses if there are no injuries or deaths resulting.

“That means she committed felony DWI about 1,197 times,” Crisp said. “When is it going to stop?”

The jury had the option of sentencing Jones to two to 20 years in prison. Had they sentenced her to 10 years or less and recommended it, Jones could have received probation. The jury assessed a maximum $10,000 fine in addition to the 18-year prison term.

“Law enforcement is doing the best we can to curtail the dangerous combination drinking, driving-and the death that can result-in our community. This jury verdict demonstrates that Bowie County citizens will not tolerate this danger on our roads. In Bowie County, if blood alcohol level is almost four times over the legal limit and you get behind the wheel of a car and kill someone, you are going to prison,” Crisp said. “This senseless manslaughter was a forseeable result of this defendant’s selfish choice which was a continuation of her pattern of drinking and driving and having no regard for others on the roadway.”

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