Judge Bob Brotherton, who is the presiding judge of the 30th District Court, will hear the traffic case which resulted in the deaths of three people in Wichita Falls on Jacksboro Highway, according to a statement from the Wichita County District Attorney's Office in the Wichita Falls Times Record News newspaper, Saturday, March 29. Former police officer Teddie Lynn Whitfield, 32, has requested a trial in front of a judge as opposed to a jury trial, according to the statement from the district attorney's office.
Judge Brotherton will hear arguments from both the state and the defense before making his decision on the case, according to Assistant District Attorney John Gillespie. Gillespie further said the defendant's signing of confessions admitting that he was guilty of criminally negligent homicide, a state jail felony, does not resolve the case.
The First Assistant District Attorney said he will take the position the former Wichita Falls police officer was guilty of the more serious offense of manslaughter, a second degree felony. Gillespie also said that he wasn't agreeing with the defense that it is criminally negligent homicide.
Gillespie explained that if the former officer is convicted of manslaughter he could receive anywhere from probation to twenty years in prison. However, a conviction for criminally negligent homicide would shrink that maximum sentence to two years in prison.
The vehicle driven by the defendant allegedly collided with the car in which Yeni Lopez, 18, her unborn child and Gloria Montoya, 13 were riding near the intersection of Holliday Road and Jacksboro Highway, according to the investigation performed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The City of Wichita Falls agreed to pay $500,000 to the families of the three victims as part of a civil settlement of the case.
Gillespie said the trial was formerly to be held in front of a jury in Collin County because of a change of venue. Gillespie, who is handling the case for the DA's office, said the hearing could be held in either late spring or early summer.
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