In a trial that concluded late on Aug. 24, a Parker County jury sentenced Jose Luis Chavez, 62, of Weatherford, to 20 years in prison for a felony driving while intoxicated charge.
Chavez pled guilty to the charge and elected to have a jury determine his punishment. Assistant District Attorneys Abigail Placke and Robert DuBoise introduced evidence during the trial showing that in the early evening of March 13, Chavez was driving his pickup truck on North Main Street in Weatherford and nearly struck a Parker County Sheriff’s deputy’s patrol car in the area near the railroad tracks.
The deputy testified that he pulled Chavez over and, upon walking up to his truck, he immediately smelled the odor of alcohol and could see a brown paper sack containing a can in plain view within the truck. The deputy told jurors that Chavez initially denied drinking, but shortly thereafter, admitted that he had consumed “ten to twenty” beers. After Chavez failed three field sobriety tests, he was arrested for DWI and taken to the Parker County jail.
When Chavez refused to provide a breath specimen at the jail, the deputy obtained a search warrant to obtain a blood sample. An analysis of the revealed that Chavez had a blood alcohol level of .268, over three times the legal limit of .08.
According to documents introduced at trial by the prosecution, Chavez had previously been sentenced to prison for possession of marijuana in both 1987 and 1992, possession of a controlled substance in 2008, and a prior felony DWI case in 2010. He also had 2 prior misdemeanor DWI convictions.
In closing arguments, Chavez’s attorney urged jurors to sentence Chavez to a lesser sentence, reminding them of trial testimony which described how his wife, children and grandchildren depended upon him and would suffer if he were sentenced to an extended prison sentence.
Placke asked jurors to remember that Chavez had been convicted of felony DWI in that very courtroom when he was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2010. She urged jurors to impose the maximum 20 year sentence to protect the citizens of Parker County from someone who failed to learn from his prior mistakes.
“Your verdict provides a guideline to our office and to this Court, as to the proper punishment in Parker County for a felony driving while intoxicated charge,” she said.
Following closing arguments, the jury deliberated for about 15 minutes before returning with their maximum sentence.
“I want to thank the jury for their verdict,” said Parker County District Attorney Don Schnebly. “It is a strong statement about how our community feels about people who continually drive while intoxicated and about people who don’t learn from their previous experiences with the criminal justice system.”