POSTED: Friday, July 13, 2012 - 4:24pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 13, 2012 - 4:32pm
HENDERSON COUNTY — On Thursday, May 17th a Henderson County jury sentenced George Wayne Smith, 46, of Log Cabin, to 99 years in the penitentiary for an August 26th, 2011 early morning DWI on FM 3054 in Log Cabin. Judge Mark Calhoon of the 3rd Judicial District Court presided over the trial.
The jury of nine women and three men found Smith guilty after a day and ½ of testimony presented by District Attorney Scott McKee and Assistant District Attorney Bridget Bateman.
Log Cabin Police Officer Jonathan Hutchinson testified that shortly after midnight on August 26th, 2011, he was running radar at the intersection of SH 198 and FM 3054 when Smith, who was riding a motorcycle, ran off the road and into a ditch while making the turn from 198 to 3054.
Hutchinson testified that he immediately activated his overhead lights and attempted to stop Smith who had recovered from running of the road and was continuing east on FM 3054. After approximately ½ of a mile, Smith finally stopped. Hutchinson told the jury that immediately after making contact with Smith, he could smell a strong odor of alcohol and that Smith had slurred speech.
Hutchinson along with assistance from Caney City Officer Chris Meyers, conducted field sobriety tests on Smith and determined that he was intoxicated and that Smith had numerous other DWI arrests. The jury also watched the videotape of the incident which was recorded from Officer Hutchinson’s patrol vehicle.
Smith was placed into custody and transported to ETMC of Athens for a blood draw. Karen Ream, a forensic scientist from the Texas Department of Public Safety testified that she analyzed the blood drawn from Smith that night and determined that he had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .177, over twice the legal limit of .08.
After the jury found Smith guilty of DWI on Wednesday evening, the punishment phase opened Thursday morning with D.A. McKee telling the jury what he referred to as “the rest of the story”. During his opening statements on punishment, McKee told the jury that Smith had numerous DWIs and had even been to the penitentiary in the past on numerous occasions for DWI.
Assistant D.A. Bridget Bateman introduced 11 prior DWI charges into evidence for the jury. Bateman also had Investigator Monte Mansfield of the Gun Barrel City Police Department, a certified fingerprint expert, testify that he had compared the fingerprints on the prior DWI charges with that of Smith and they were Smith’s.
In his closing arguments to the jury, McKee highlighted Smith’s extensive history of DWI convictions before asking them to send him to the penitentiary.
“It is beyond comprehension that Smith was back on the street after so many prior DWIs.” Said McKee to the jury. “Somewhere our system has failed when a man with 11 prior DWIs is allowed to have a driver’s license and is even out of jail and on the streets.”
McKee indicated his office works closely with MADD and law enforcement agencies to work towards DWI education. “We just want people to know that if they drink, we don’t want them to drive.” McKee also indicated that he is working with Representative Lance Gooden and Senator Robert Nichols this legislative session to sponsor a bill he authored making it tougher on intoxicated drivers that injure others as a result of an automobile crash.