The End of an Era?

Houston DWI defense lawyer Todd Overstreet got the State to agree to a motion for new trial for a client who had pleaded guilty on September 14th to two counts of criminally negligent homicide (a class A misdemeanor State Jail Felony—thanks, TY) for deaths of a Houston couple in a traffic accident.

Todd is being coy about the details, but First Assistant DA Jim Leitner wrote: “as tragic as this accident was, the facts simply do not rise to the level of a criminal offense.”

The client, a tow truck driver, had used cocaine at some point before the wreck, in which prosecutors had said he was driving about 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. It sounds as though the client had the right of way but was speeding. He also had some prior convictions for DWI and drug possession.

The prosecutor who filed the charge was the same one who, back in June 2007, tried to claim after losing at trial that he had tried another accidental fatality case to “honor” the dead child. He left the DA’s office this year, and went to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Let’s hope that this case signals the end of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office trying to make a felony out of every bad car crash with a sympathetic victim. Much more than the Rosenthal-Siegler DA’s Office, the Lykos-Leitner-Bridgwater DA’s Office seems to understand that just because you can get someone indicted for a felony doesn’t mean you should.

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