An Arlington man was convicted of three counts of intoxication manslaughter Thursday for driving drunk and causing two wrecks that killed a family of three.
Benjamon Ray Stewart, 43, opted for state District Judge Scott Wisch to sentence him, which Wisch will do later after getting a presentencing report.
The maximum sentence on each count is 20 years in prison. Stewart was also indicted on a charge of failure to stop and render aid, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The jury got the case about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. After returning to court Thursday morning, they deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning the guilty verdict.
Killed in the wreck on July 24, 2013, were Najib Intidam, 40, his wife, Hanane, 27 and their 11-month-old daughter, Nour.
“This is not complicated,” prosecutor Katie Woods told the jury on Wednesday. “But for his conduct those people would not have died. But for his being intoxicated, Nour’s parents would have gotten a chance to see her first birthday, see her take her first steps, see her go to school and maybe one day see her get married.”
Stewart rear-ended the Intidams’ Toyota about 2:20 a.m. on a poorly lighted section of Interstate 30 between Eastchase Parkway and Fielder Road in Arlington, prosecutors said.
Witnesses testified that the family’s car sat in a middle lane of the freeway for more than three minutes before it was struck again from the rear by a Ford F-450 pickup pulling two commercial mowers on a flatbed trailer.
No one moved inside the Toyota, witnesses said. By the time police arrived, Stewart had run from his SUV into nearby woods and was hiding, prosecutors said. Almost an hour after the initial 911 calls, firefighters using a thermal imaging device found Stewart.
When Stewart’s blood was finally tested nearly four hours after the collision, his blood alcohol content was 0.28, more than three times the legal limit, McCormick reminded jurors during her closing argument.
According to witness testimony, Stewart had gone to at least one bar before the wreck, and asked an employee at a Walmart if he knew where someone could get alcoholic beverages.
Michael Frederick, Stewart’s attorney, argued throughout the trial that prosecutors could not prove that Stewart caused the deaths. The fatal injuries were caused by the pickup that hit the Toyota with 29 times the force of Stewart’s SUV, Frederick said.