LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A plea hearing was held in Judge Paul White's 159th Judicial District Court for Daniel Martin accused of being under the influence of alcohol and causing a wreck that killed, Justin James-Lee Mariana in July 2015.
Michael Robert Mariana, the brother of the victim killed was in the car during the crash and was taken to a hospital but survived. Martin was initially charged with intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle and intoxicated assault with a vehicle, but as part of the plea bargain deal, he pleaded guilty to second-degree felony aggravated assault.
This plea agreement means he will apply for a 10-year deferred probation period where he will be required to adhere to court orders of not consuming alcohol or other controlled substances.
"This may take a little while today, which means we may or may not finish. Do you understand why?" White asked the defendant. "This is a very serious case. You have been charged with intoxicated manslaughter which means you killed someone, and I don't think it gets any more serious than that."
If the judge approves the plea bargain deal, it will include a 10-year deferred adjudication sentence, a $1,000 fine, a standard restitution component, and an obligation to perform community service. It will also mean that Martin will be banned from owning a firearm during the deferred adjudication period.
The surviving victim and the deceased were both intoxicated at the time of the crash, and the surviving victim has asked for him not to be punished as harshly as the state would like, Bauereiss said.
Martin's blood alcohol was .07, which is below the legal intoxication threshold.
He did have medication in his system, but the defense said after calling Austin and looking at his blood-alcohol level they did not determine clearly if it affected his level of intoxication.
The mother of the surviving victim took the stand in support of Martin to say the three boys in the car that night were friends, and she felt the 10-year probation was too long.
"We didn't want Daniel to go to jail for like 20 years. They grew up together, and it could have easily been one of them driving," Mariana said. "It could have been any of them driving, my other son, he could have been driving he could have been in the same shoes as Daniel."
The sister of the victim said they are for the court proceedings to be finished so their family can move on and honor the life that Justin leaves behind.
"We can't change the results all we can do is stand behind my other brother and wish him the best, we don't want to lose another brother for the holidays," Reed said. "This was an accident, it doesn't help the hurt my family is feeling but we want to remember Justin for the person he is."
White asked the mother if the father of the suspect agreed that he should receive a light punishment for what happened, and she said that at first, he agreed to a light sentence and has since changed that perspective.
The judge said he would have to recess this case until November the 14th until the judge can have the opportunity to speak with the victim's father and ensure that both sides of the story have been heard in this case.