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Drunk Driver Sentenced to 15 Years for Intoxicated Manslaughter
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***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

Drunk Driver Sentenced to 15 Years for Intoxicated Manslaughter

June 16, 2017

 

GALVESTON – Today, Justin James Forsyth, 38, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for Intoxication Manslaughter.

On Monday, June 12, 2017, Forsyth’s jury trial began in the 56th District Court. Over the course of the nearly weeklong trial the State presented multiple witness testimony and physical evidence detailing Forsyth’s actions that led to the death of a four year old child.

On July 17, 2016, according to witness testimony, Forsyth began drinking alcohol at his home around 8:00 am. Sometime that afternoon Forsyth and his girlfriend went to a local Bacliff, Texas bar that he was known to frequent where he consumed more alcohol. Around 7:15 p.m. Forsyth returned to his residence, driving his motorcycle, with his girlfriend’s 17 year old son and then left again to return to his girlfriend’s house.

Around 7:30 p.m, Forsyth was seen heading south on 10th Street in Bacliff, driving at a high rate of speed. Before turning onto 10th Street, witnesses testified that Forsyth didn’t completely stop at that stop sign, almost striking the sign. The victim was outside playing with a group of children, including his two siblings, on the east side of 10th street, near the ditch playing with a truck. Forsyth, after turning onto 10th Street, was seen driving on the wrong side of the road and having his head down immediately before striking the victim.

The victim was taken to Clear Lake Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead as a result of his injuries. Medical Records and testimony described the victim suffering extensive head injuries and concluded that from the moment of impact there was almost no chance of his survival. The Accident Reconstruction Expert’s testimony, in addition to witness testimony, showed that after impact the victim was drug about 49.5 feet. There was also no indication that Forsyth applied his brake or took any action to attempt to avoid striking the victim.

Witnesses testified that after the accident Forsyth was stumbling around and his speech was slurred. Law Enforcement arrived and determined Forsyth was intoxicated, arresting him for driving while intoxicated before he was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken ankle. The State presented medical records for Forsyth’s treatment in the emergency room which showed he had a blood alcohol level of .260. Law Enforcement also obtained a search warrant to draw Forsyth’s blood which was sent to the Texas DPS Crime Lab in Houston for testing. DPS results showed that at the time of the second blood draw Forsyth’s blood alcohol level was .230.

Around 5:30 pm on Thursday the jury returned with a guilty verdict after about 30 minutes of deliberation. The punishment phase of trial began this morning.  Forsyth faced a punishment range of two to 20 years in the prison for the second degree felony offense. He was also eligible for probation since he had no prior felony convictions.

The State presented the jury with Forsyth’s multiple misdemeanor convictions in Michigan and Georgia. The convictions included one conviction for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The victim’s mother testified that the family had been forever changed by the events that unfolded before them on July 17, 2016. The State argued to the jury that probation was not appropriate for the loss of the life that was taken. Assistant District Attorney Kacey Launius told the jury that when deciding on the number of years to ask themselves, “what is a lifetime of birthday parties at the cemetery worth.” The State also argued that Forsyth more than anyone should know the impact of losing a loved one in this way given testimony that recounted how Forsyth’s twin brother was killed in a drunk driving incident. The State told the jury the punishment should also be a message to others, the community and visitors to the community, about what happens when you drive under the influence.

The jury deliberated for about an hour and half before returning this afternoon with a verdict of 15 years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in addition to a $10,000 fine. Because of the deadly weapon finding, Forsyth will be required to serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

Forsyth was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kayla Allen and Kacey Launius in the 56th District Court, with Judge Lonnie Cox presiding. The investigation was conducted by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.



Comments:
It's a shame he wasn't sentenced to the full 20 years especially if he will be eligible for parole after serving only half. I hope the child's family and friends attend the parole hearing and it is denied. Kudos to the assist district attorney prosecuting the case and the jurors who decided his punishment. Galveston County needs to be tough on drunks and even more so with the ones who kill others.
Posted by Nick Elodeon at 6/20/2017 6:38:07 PM

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