June 5, 2014

North Richland Hills man guilty in fatal street-racing crash in Arlington

David Alan Daniel, 35, is sentenced to two years in prison in the death of a 23-year-old Fort Worth man who was struck at an Arlington intersection in 2011.

A North Richland Hills man was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison and 10 years on probation for his involvement in an Arlington street race that caused a wreck that killed a man.

David Alan Daniel, 35, was convicted earlier Thursday of one count of racing on a highway and causing a death, and one count of racing on a highway causing serious bodily injury.

Daniel faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the racing/causing a death count and a maximum of 10 years on the racing/serious bodily injury. Daniel was eligible for probation and can appeal his sentence.

Once Daniel completes his prison sentence, he must return to Tarrant County where he will begin his probation under the supervision of state District Judge George Gallagher’s court.

The wreck occurred Nov. 29, 2011, in the 1500 block of North Cooper Street in Arlington. Daniel and his co-defendant, David Cabrera, were racing southbound on Cooper at speeds higher than 80 mph when they went through the intersection at the Road to Six Flags, prosecutors said.

Cabrera, driving a 2007 Acura, struck a southbound 2000 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Jose Reyes-Ramirez, who was making a left turn onto the Road to Six Flags.

Reyes-Ramirez, 23, of Fort Worth, died two days later at John Peter Smith Hospital, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

His passenger, Ruben Escalante, was injured but survived.

Cabrera was also injured. He was convicted of manslaughter in February and sentenced to three years in prison.

Daniel’s car didn’t hit anything. Jurors saw video of the wreck that showed Cabrera’s and Daniel’s vehicles speeding into the intersection. Cabrera’s vehicle struck the Volkswagen broadside, while the vehicle driven by Daniel sped through the intersection and into the night.

Prosecutors told jurors that Cabrera and Daniel were racing and that Daniel’s speed indicated that he had no regard for the safety of other motorists.

Daniel’s attorney, John Gioffredi, conceded the speeding.

“He was a career speeder, if you will,” Gioffredi said. “He’s never caused an accident before this event. He has since slowed down.”

Gioffredi argued that prosecutors could not determine from the evidence that Daniel and Cabrera were racing.

But prosecutors Jacob Mitchell and William Vassar said it was easy to tell. They called two witnesses who testified that the drivers were racing. One testified that he decided against turning onto Cooper because he could hear the two vehicles speeding toward the intersection.

“This is in a 35-mph speed zone,” Mitchell said.

Daniel “was being a good citizen and came forward to help,” Gioffredi said during his closing statement. “He said he did not see the wreck and his actions are consistent with that.”

Mitchell told the jury to “look at his actions afterward.”

“He flees. After finding out there was a death, finding out the police are looking for him, then he gives his statement,” Mitchell said.

Earlier in the day, Gallagher had Daniel’s wife, Brenda Daniel, removed from the courtroom after she screamed that her husband did not do anything.

But after sentencing, Gallagher allowed Daniel and his wife to say goodbye. They embraced for several minutes in the courtroom.

“I don’t understand,” Daniel told his wife. “I took a lie detector test. I did everything they asked me to do. This is crazy.”

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