Judge adds 180 days in jail to Pollok man's probation sentence

Judge adds 180 days in jail to Pollok man's probation sentence

By Jena Johnson

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A jury has given a Pollok man a 10-year probation sentence for killing his friend and injuring another in a drunk-driving accident in 2010.

As part of the probation, District Judge Paul White announced he was adding a 180-day county jail sentence.

According to a previous report, Tucker was driving a 1995 Lexus southbound on U.S. 69 North, a mile south of FM 843, at 12:35 a.m. on Feb. 8, when he crossed the center line and struck an 18-wheeler head-on.

One of Tucker's passengers, Nicholas Zayne Anthony, 19, of Lufkin, was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:40 a.m. Another passenger, Ryan Walton, 19, of Pollok, was taken to a Tyler hospital with serious injuries.

Tucker also suffered serious injuries.

Tucker pleaded guilty to the crime Wednesday. The jury made the decision after about four two hours of deliberations.

Ryan Walton says he and Tucker have spent countless hours talking about that night.

"I know he's deeply heartbroken and I know he wish I could do anything to change it but it's one of those things that you can't take back," Walton said.

Anthony's mother told the jury all she has is memories "the only time I can look in his eyes are when I look at pictures."

She says she spends everyday after work visiting her only son's cemetery.

She also testified that Tucker never apologized to her for causing Athony's death.

"He wanted to and I know he did, but she never really gave him the chance to and I know that was even more hurtful for him and I can't imagine trying to explain how sorry he was to her with all that happening," Walton said. "I mean I know there wouldn't be any easy way to explain it to her."

Walton says they were all drinking the night Tucker crashed.

"We were all equally responsibly for the decisions that we made that night," he said.

Jena Johnson covered the hearing all day Thursday. Below are her notes from the courtroom.

On the stand Thursday, Tucker asked for a probation sentence. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

"The main punishment for me is that I killed my best friend," he said. "I think about him every day."

Tanya Anthony, the victim's mother, then took the stand.

She testified that her son and Tucker had known each other since they were little.

"I wouldn't get in the car and ride with him (Tucker). I don't trust him. I wouldn't put anyone I love in the vehicle with him," said Anthony.

She said Tucker has never apologized or shown anything close to remorse since her son's death.

"All I have are memories. The only time I can look in his eyes are when I look at pictures," she said in tears. "All I do is go to work and then go to the cemetery every day."

The state asked her how often she goes to his burial spot.

"Every day," she said. "He never leaves my mind. He's constantly in my heart."

In closing arguments, Whiteker called the crime a "mistake."

"People make mistakes," he said. "None of these boys got in this car with intent of this happening."

"This young man here is suffering," he said. "He is hurt. He has killed a friend and he knows what he did is stupid."

He told the jury probation is not a gift and he doesn't walk away free from it.

"The boy feels bad. Really bad," Whiteker said.

He said the law recognizes Tucker's offense as an unintentional crime and gives probation as an option.

Prosecuting attorney Art Bauereiss told the jury that he bet they didn't make a mistake that caused someone to die.

"If we give him probation then what kind of message are we sending?" he asked. "If you send him to prison, you send him to the one place we know where he can't get alcohol and drive."

He asked the jury to consider the public's safety.

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