HEMPHILL, TX (KTRE) - The negligent homicide trial for a Baytown man accused in the death of a man who was a passenger in his pickup when he allegedly ran a stop sign and collided with the rear end of an 18-wheeler in September of 2014 started Monday.
The trial for Johnnie Deshandrick Sampson, 32, is being held in Judge Charles Mitchell's judicial district courtroom in Sabine County. Sampson, pleaded not guilty of the charges against him.
Sabine County District Attorney Kevin Dutton started with opening arguments informing the jury of the details of the crash and how Larry Fike, the 54-year-old victim, immediately died at the scene. Fike was ejected from the pickup in the wreck, and Sampson was airlifted to a Beaumont hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
Julie Conn, Sampson's court-appointed defense attorney, gave the jury details of the wreck that Dutton didn't present. She said that Sampson doesn't have a driver's license; he only has a valid Texas ID, which would prevent him from driving.
The state called as their first witness, Trooper Daniel Dillinger with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"I responded to the crash on the county line, and it turned out to be in Sabine County when initial reports of the accident said the crash happened in Jasper," Dillinger said.
As the lead investigator to the crash, Dillinger told the jury that Sampson said his friend had been drinking and didn't want him to drive."
The next four witnesses to take the stand said they believe that Sampson would have been driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.
Trooper John Wayne took the stand next. He told the jury "on a crash like this, car didn't stop at the stop sign. It's cut and dried. So now we ask what caused the driver to not stop." Wayne described to the jury how the crash may have happened.
Fike's wife was inside the courtroom and could be seen shedding tears when several witnesses took the stand. Family members of Sampson were also present.
During the primarily investigation three years ago, authorities said Fike, of Caldwell, died at the crash site that happened in the Brookeland area back in September 2014. Sampson was also in the 1995 GMC Sierra pickup truck when, according to authorities, they ran a stop sign and crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler.