Teen charged with DWI manslaughter in wreck that killed 4

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The 16-year-old who was driving a pickup that started a chain reaction of wrecks that killed four people in June in southern Tarrant County has been charged in juvenile court with four counts of intoxication manslaughter.

He was also charged with two counts of intoxication assault, according to a statement from the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.

The teen appeared with his lawyers Wednesday afternoon for a detention hearing. He was released to his parents on the condition that he wear an ankle monitor that allows officials to keep track of him, a news release said.

No trial date was set. The teen “could face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted,” said prosecutor Riley Shaw, chief of the juvenile division of the DA’s office.

The Star-Telegram usually does not identify juvenile defendants.

The wreck was reported about 11:45 p.m. June 15 in the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road. A speeding red Ford F350 pickup with eight occupants, two riding in the bed, left the road, clipped a stranded sport utility vehicle, and smashed into the SUV’s driver and three people who were trying to help her.

The impact flung the four people 50 to 60 yards, authorities reported. Killed were Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, 41; the SUV driver, Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian; and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who had come from their house nearby to help.

The red pickup then hit Jennings’ parked Silverado pickup with two boys inside. The red pickup went airborne, flipped and crashed into a tree.

None of the teens in the red truck wore seat belts, investigators said.

Jennings’ pickup was pushed into a Volkswagen Beetle driven by Ashlyn Evans, 18, of Burleson, who had a 14-year-old passenger. They were injured, as were the boys waiting in Jennings’ pickup.

Investigators learned that the 16-year-old pickup driver had been drinking for a few hours before the wreck and that about an hour before, he was in a group of teens who stole two cases of beer from the Wal-Mart in Burleson. The theft was recorded by store security cameras.

Later, investigators said, the group was drinking at a house in the 1700 block of Burleson-Retta Road. They piled into the pickup and headed west. The pickup quickly reached close to 70 mph, investigators said.

After the wreck, the driver’s blood-alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal limit, investigators have reported.

Prosecutors chose not to pursue adult charges but to try the driver as a juvenile and to seek a “determinate sentence.” That means the teen, if convicted, could start a prison sentence in a youth facility and, after age 19, complete it in an adult prison, according to Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

“After careful consideration,” McDonald said, “we determined that a determinate sentence — rather than adult certification — would best protect the public in the long term and offer this juvenile a chance at rehabilitation while still exposing him to the full range of punishment.

“As with any offender, he could also be paroled at some point and is eligible for probation.”

The family of one of the teenagers thrown from the back of the red pickup has sued the driver and his parents.

The parents of Sergio E. Molina are suing for up to $20 million, according to their court filing.

Molina is in a coma with a traumatic brain injury, according to the suit. His medical bills have exceeded $600,000 and could climb into the millions if Molina needs permanent round-the-clock care, according to the suit.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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