Skip to comments.Defense expert says deadly crash was unavoidable (Judge Shelton-Houston)
Posted on 10/06/2007 2:38:57 PM PDT by trumandogz
A judge's daughter accused of intoxication manslaughter could not have avoided the collision that killed her boyfriend because a truck driver had drifted into her lane, an accident reconstruction expert told a jury Friday.
Jurors also saw the defendant's father, District Court Judge Pat Shelton, accuse prosecutors of selectively punishing his daughter, saying they failed to charge the truck driver for not immediately stopping after the wreck. He then accused a witness who testified against his daughter of being an illegal immigrant.
The jury must decide whether Elizabeth Shelton, a 20-year-old University of St. Thomas student, is responsible for the death of her passenger, Matthew McNiece, 19, of Bellaire, as a result of the freeway crash last year.
Shelton's blood-alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit at 0.26 and 0.28 percent, based on two different blood tests after the wreck.
Her mother, Julia Shelton, told the jury Friday that police treated Elizabeth Shelton inhumanely, hauling her out of a hospital hours after the accident in handcuffs and a paper gown to take her to jail. Accident reconstruction expert Joe Hinton, testifying for the defense, said Shelton had no chance to avoid the collision because the box truck, traveling next to her, veered a couple feet into her lane as she drove along the freeway's far left side next to a wall.
The crash "could have happened to anyone in this room exactly the same way," Hinton testified Friday, adding that a sober person also would have had no time to react. "Intoxication makes no difference."
Lance Bennett, the truck driver, has denied changing lanes before Shelton struck the rear of his vehicle.
Hinton's conclusions also contradict those of another expert who testified there was no evidence that the truck pulled into Elizabeth Shelton's lane.
Harris County sheriff's deputy David Pearson, who also reviewed HPD's work in the case, said no evidence shows the truck was in Shelton's lane, adding if a motorist "was driving at the speed limit and was not intoxicated, the crash would never have occurred."
Both experts, nevertheless, agreed HPD's investigation was flawed. "It could have been a lot better," Pearson said of HPD's work. "There was a lot of evidence that wasn't documented properly."
HPD's lead investigator on the case, officer Sherwin Johnson, incorrectly had Shelton's car towed to a private storage lot instead of the secured police compound after the wreck a move that did not follow correct procedures.
Prosecutors had hoped to examine the crash data recorder, or "black box," in Shelton's car to retrieve information, such as her speed and braking at the time of impact, but attorney Mark T. Sandoval, representing Shelton's mother in a lawsuit against the truck driver, went to the storage lot and removed the box before investigators executed a search warrant.
Sandoval later gave the black box to prosecutors, but Lexus officials refused to analyze the data inside.
In a brief, but volatile, courtroom exchange with prosecutors Friday, Shelton's father said he firmly believes the truck driver caused the wreck and argued prosecutors gave Bennett a pass when he failed to stop after the collision. Bennett returned to the crash site minutes later and cooperated with police.
"He could've been charged for failing to remain at the scene. You could've prosecuted both (drivers), and you did not do that," Pat Shelton said.
He said he was also told the truck driver had an arrest warrant for a hot check and was driving with lapsed automotive insurance, claims that visibly irritated prosecutor Paul Doyle.
"How in the world as a judge can you look at this jury and attack Mr. Bennett, who's out there doing his job?" Doyle retorted.
Shelton's father then claimed a witness to the crash who testified against his daughter was an illegal immigrant. Doyle appeared incredulous.
"The same man who stopped to aid your daughter, to do the right thing, you're attacking his citizenship status? Are you kidding me?" Doyle shouted.
"No one is above the law," Shelton's father responded.
Elizabeth Shelton's mother told the jury she was appalled at the way police treated her daughter. Julia Shelton described how police led her daughter out of a hospital hours after the crash, with her hands cuffed behind her back, wearing a paper hospital gown, barefoot and without underwear.
"The policemen were extremely ugly. I couldn't understand what this big rush was to get her off to jail," she said.
"It was all the police officers I encountered that evening they all copped an attitude, big time. There was chuckling. It was extremely unprofessional behavior. I was appalled."
Doyle asked if she thought it was appalling for someone to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.26 percent.
"I think it's irresponsible," she said.
This is disgusting.
Except his daughter. This man is unbelievable.
She should not have been on the road drunk - if she wasn’t on the road drunk the truck would have just swerved back into his own lane ... no hit ..... always someone else’s fault .....
First was the officer doing the judge a favor not impounding the car and second shouldn't the attorney be charged with tampering with evidence?
Sure does sound like that is the case.
Best I can tell, if the truck driver had not had a warrant out on him for a check ... the accident still would have happened. If the truck driver was carrying current insurance ... the accident still would have happened.
I understand the judge's love for his daughter, but this is bizarre.
“The policemen were extremely ugly.”
Yeah! She wanted the handsome policemen!
Know anything about this judge? If things are as presented here, quite a specimen.
The fix is in!
Also, a sober person may have been able to avoid hitting the truck by driving more prudently...and defensively.
More than 3x the legal level for DRUNK!
Then there is this!
"Prosecutors had hoped to examine the crash data recorder, or "black box," in Shelton's car to retrieve information, such as her speed and braking at the time of impact, but attorney Mark T. Sandoval, representing Shelton's mother in a lawsuit against the truck driver, went to the storage lot and removed the box before investigators executed a search warrant."
My, my......for whatever reason would mommy's lawyer do that?
Isn't that tampering with evidence in a case involving a potential "DUI / Contributory Homicide" ?????
Fry the drunk and her family... Drunks on the road occupy the bottom rung of compassion ladder...
It seems the Judge’s family is more interested in defending themselves against the dead boy’s family — who will certainly come after the little drunk for a “wrongful death due to DUI”...and on and on.....
The Judge sees his retirement nest egg getting fried.
It is alleged Shelton and a friend, Mathew McNiece, were in an SUV and speeding while traveling south on the Southwest Freeway early Monday morning.
Witnesses said Shelton was behind the wheel when she lost control of her vehicle, swerved across two lanes of traffic and then hit a commercial Ford F-650 truck.
Shelton was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital and became irate when told to submit a mandatory blood sample, according to the prosecutor.
"There was a lot of vulgarity and profanity used when they did ask for the blood sample, said prosecutor Paul Doyle. I think that is consistent with signs of intoxication.
As for Sheltons blood alcohol limit, Doyle said it was, .28 extremely high.
Its three times the legal limit in Texas which is .08.
If that is true, it is high the alcohol content, said defense attorney Bob Moen.
He said besides the obvious physical suffering, Shelton is hurting more inside.
Shes seeing a grief counselor and that will continue for a period of time, said Moen.
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW...nope, can't dredge up a scintilla of pity. Fry her. While we're at it, fry mommy (whose attorney removed the "black box") and daddy, too; this would be a better world without this whole family.
Their testimony in court just shows what jerks the Sheldon family are.
I hope they toss the girl in prison for 20 years and that the Judge gets his a$$ kicked out of office.
He is an embarrassment to the GOP.
And he is still practicing, ??? Don't know about somethings in texas?
Seems like real typical. Daughter probably did all sorts of stuff before this and judge got her out of it. Swerving accross two lanes of traffic speeding and very drunk and hitting a truck killing someone probably is too big to cover up. So judge is suing trucking company for hitting truck. Article of OP partially covers up facts. Judge would have been smarter using his influence to get a favorable plea bargin, and done less damage to his own reputation that way.
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