Huntington man on trial for intoxicated manslaughter: 'I'm very sorry'

William Hooks (Source: Angelina County Jail)
William Hooks (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - During the second day of the trial for a Huntington man accused of causing a wreck on Nov. 30, 2012 that killed one man and seriously injured two other people, a forensic pathologist testified to the severity of the dead man's injuries.

Robert Lyon, a forensic pathologist, also testified that William Brady Hooks had a blood-alcohol level of .186, or more than twice the legal limit, when the fatal accident occurred on U.S. Highway 69 South near Angelina County's Dead Man Road.

A gold 2003 pickup allegedly driven by Hooks slammed into the driver's side of a white 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 van. The van's driver, Lester Lee Banks, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Two passengers in Banks' van, Donita Banks and Tony Runnels, were also injured.

Hooks is standing trial on charges of intoxicated manslaughter and two charges of intoxicated assault, which are all felonies.

Lyon showed the jury a photo of the injuries Lester Lee Banks, the driver killed in the accident, received after the impact.

"The injury to the back of his head is evidence to impact to the back of his head," Lyon said.

Lyon told jurors that parts of the brain were protruding from tears in Banks' scalp. In addition, Banks suffered rib fractures, heart and kidney sprains, and an aorta tear in the accident.

The injuries he saw were consistent with a motor vehicle accident.

"The defendant did not think about then carry out colliding with the other vehicle in order to harm or kill that person," Lyon said. "It was negligence without intent to do harm, classifies as an accident."

Kevin Crawford, a firefighter with the Lufkin Fire Department, told jurors that he responded to the accident back in 2012.

"When I arrived the defendant was already in the care of the first responders," Crawford said.

Crawford said testified that he did an assessment on Hooks and took him to the E.R.

"He kept saying he was not the driver," Crawford said.

Crawford told the jury that he didn't write down any report of alcohol use or on the scene. He said he only wrote down physical findings.

Later, Martha Dean took the stand and testified she was driving home from a football game when she saw the accident.

"We moved to the shoulder, and all I could see is a white van, and we go toward the wreck, and we came up on the truck," said Dean.

Dean said there was someone in the back seat of the truck.

"There was a gun in the vehicle and the smell of alcohol," Dean said.

Dean told the jury that she asked Hooks if there was someone she could call and said that he gave her a number, but she couldn't get an answer.

"To me he was OK. He was talking, and he was coherent enough to give me a phone number," Dean said.

But Dean explained to the jury that in her opinion there is a difference between a drunk driver and someone who is intoxicated

Andrew Gardner, a forensic scientist for the Texas Department of Public Safety took the stand this afternoon. He said that Hooks blood alcohol sample was more than twice the legal limit.

"Most of the absorption of the alcohol is done in the small intestine; everyone absorbs alcohol a little differently," Gardner said.

Then, Hooks took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon.

He testified that on the day of the accident he was going through a lot in his marriage. Hooks told the jury that he has a suspicion his wife was cheating.

Hooks said he had eight beers out of a 12-pack started drinking at about 8 p.m., and he made the decision to go see his wife at 11 p.m.

"I headed to Zavalla from Huntington and pulled up in the yard. I saw him in the window. I pointed at him; he pointed at me, and I saw what I needed to see in that moment," Hooks said.

Hooks said he got in his truck and headed home, and he didn't deny his truck caused the accident.

"I'm very sorry," Hooks said.

"I hurt these people's family, and I can never forgive myself," Hooks said.

Hooks told the jury that when he went to turn right on Dead Man's Road, the brakes on his pickup locked up. Hooks said he tried to correct it and the truck spun out.

"There was never any intent for this to happen," Hooks said.

Defense Attorney Ryan Deaton asked him if intoxication had anything to do with the accident.

"I don't believe so, my brakes locked on me" Hooks said. "There would be no reason to make a left hand turn, you can only go right,"

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