by Allen Bartell on Facebook, Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 11:32pm
So the case was pretty interesting. This guy is driving a Bobtail truck (without a CDL) and runs past the Weight Station, thinking, according to him, that without a trailer he did not have to stop. It was his brother's truck and his brother was in the truck.The troopers pull him over and lead him to cross traffic and drive through the median, back to the inspection bay. They say that there they smelled stale alcohol on his breath. They guided him through the sobriety tests which he failed miserably all on video. They did not follow proper procedure on thier SOP for sober tests. The guy got into arguements with the troopers and they arrested him and had him sign a refusal of the breath test. They took him to jail and did not draw blood. One interesting thing the defense did was make the trooper try to complete his own test, walking the line, and he could not do it. He said, "Well I am very nervous in this court." defense responds, "Do you think my client was nervous there on the side of the road with the light flashing. The tropers say that the defenant told them he drank a 40 just before leaving Houston and heading to Huntsville.
That is how in ended yesterday and I was pretty sure he was drunk and since this was his 3rd DUI it was a felony.
TODAY, the defense calls Dannie (the defenant) up. Turns out this guy has a lot of issues, a lazy eye, lost toes due to diabetes, serious high BP, and mental problems. He takes seven pills every morning and night and could not even remember what all he was taking. Illiterate and dropped out of school. Probably bi-polar and that was why he got abusive with the cops. He almost fell stepping up to the chair to testify (nobody in the jury thought he faked it.) And could not do the sobriety test stone cold sober. (If he was faking it he was a hella good actor.) This dude could not in any way pass a sobriety test. He claimed he drank the beer early in the morning at a domino game and that was the only beer he drank. SO it boiled down to the fact that the only evidence the state presented as to his intoxication was that he had a stale smell of alcohol on his breath. That is hardly proof of intoxication. This, along with the troopers failure to follow their own rules, and the fact that they never asked this guy if he had any impairments that might affect the test (supposed to be asked before starting) and the fact that the jail has an on duty nurse to draw blood (but they didn't bother.) Led us to easily decide that the state did not PROVE that he was intoxicated. Not guilty. We all thought that there was no excuse for him to be driving that truck at all, but that is not what they were charging him with. he was operating that truck without a license and with his mental and physical state he should not be driving anything, but the case for alcohol impairment was not there. The DA also really blew it when he attacked the domino culture. He said in closure, "This is Dannie's life, dominos and beer, dominos and beer, dominos and beer, and then he drives a 13 ton truck home." Well there were 5 black women on the jury and the first thing they said, "He does not understand our culture, dominos IS an import thing for a lot of people and he made it sound like a terrible thing." (Bad move Mr DA.)
Honestly the testimony from the defenant was pretty hearbreaking, he was such a simple mind and so easily confused by the DA's questions that it did not matter what he answered, it just made the DA look mean and him look weak and feeble. In fact at one point the DA says, "Why should this jury believe YOU over two seasoned troopers?"
He answered, "I don't really care what the jury believes, that is between me and God and we both know the truth, I am dying, it makes no difference to me if I die at home or die in jail." I do believe he is dying, he looks like hell.
So I am driving home, and I go past the county jail and what do i see, Dannie, the defendent, walking along the highway. They had just released him. No ride home, and no compensation for the YEAR he had just spent in jail. A YEAR!! Here is a crazy thing, he did not recognize me. SERIOUSLY! I had to tell him I was on the jury. WOW. I also gave him a lecture, I told him that the 12 people who just freed him are terrified that he might hurt someone. That NOBODY thought he should have been driving that truck, and that he had put people's lives in danger. He said he was not going to ever drink again......hummmm? OK.......
Then I asked him, "Why in the HELL were you even driving that truck.?!!?!?!"
Turns out his brother was driving when they left Houston and he was so drunk that he was running cars off the road, so Dannie asked him to let him drive. In the video the first thing you hear him say is, 'My damm brother, he is no good, no good." My take is this, the brother has a job, Dannie does not. His brother was drunk but Dannie took the fall because the brother is the breadwinner for the whole family.
Final note that pisses me off about the whole thing. Tom Jones' killer, a third time DUI who killed my friend, gets three years in jail. This old man, who had not hurt anyone (although he did put people in danger) would have been facing 25 year to life. I don't understand that. And the chick who hit and ran on Jerry and I, she is still driving her car around Austin and as of yet, no charges. But this guy spent the last year in jail, only to be aquitted. I am baffled. I see how we treat the poor and the mentally ill.
After it was over,I asked the judge if they were going to do anything to help this guy. Judge looks down and says, "sadly there is not really anything in place to help in these kind of cases."
I know we did the right thing in that we did our job the way the facts led us to. But I don not think Dannie's story is gonna have a happy ending and I scared that he could hurt someone in the future. Heck I don't even know who or how he is gonna get his meds. It was an easy verdict, but nothing easy about hearing the case.