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Main Feature News Weatherford and Parker County

Repeat drunk driving offender given 70 year sentence

From the desk of Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain:

In a trial that concluded in district court in Weatherford on Thursday, a Parker County jury found a 58-year-old Mineral Wells man guilty of his seventh driving while intoxicated offense and assessed a sentence of 70 years in prison.

“I think the length of the jury’s verdict was a reflection of the danger that he posed to the community in this particular DWI case and the fact that it was his fifth felony DWI, and his sixth felony conviction overall,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case with Assistant District Attorney Susan Pruett.  “In addition to his blood alcohol concentration being over twice the legal limit, the description jurors heard from the 911 caller who started our case was very concerning.”

According to trial testimony, shortly before 11 p.m. in June 2016, Collis Burnett Robinson nearly struck another vehicle as he was driving westbound on Interstate 20 in Willow Park.  After the passenger in the other vehicle noticed that Robinson was weaving across all three lanes of traffic and was changing speeds dramatically from 90 mph down to 40 mph, she called 911.  She continued to follow him westbound on I-20, exiting on Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, and eventually onto Mineral Wells Highway westbound until Weatherford Police officers caught up and stopped him.

When Robinson failed a battery of field sobriety tests, he was arrested by Weatherford police.  After he refused to provide a breath test, the arresting officer requested and received a search warrant from Parker County Court at Law 1 Judge Jerry Buckner.

The results of his blood test were 0.187, according to trial testimony from the chemist who tested the sample.  The legal limit for intoxication in Texas is 0.08.

Jurors deliberated for only nine minutes before finding Robinson guilty.  Robinson then elected to have the jury assess his punishment instead of District Judge Craig Towson, who presided over the trial.

In the punishment phase of trial, Swain introduced court records showing that, in addition to his seven DWI convictions, he also had convictions for aggravated assault on a peace officer, evading arrest with a vehicle, assault family violence, resisting arrest, and five driving with an invalid or suspended license cases.  All of the DWI cases occurred in Tarrant, Dallas, or Bell counties.

Robinson testified in his defense during the punishment stage of trial, telling jurors that he has held steady employment since he was released from prison a decade ago.  He said that he has never been a violent person.

On cross-examination by Swain, Robinson admitted jumping bond on the current case for almost a year and that he had done the same thing on two of his other older cases when they were pending.  He also denied that he was intoxicated on all but three of his DWI cases, despite his guilty pleas to all of them.  On the present case, Robinson maintained that he had consumed two beers.

“Mr. Robinson tried to tell the jury that he was accepting responsibility for his prior DWI cases, but he denied that he was intoxicated on most of them,” Swain said. “His failure to truly acknowledge his culpability probably played a big role in the fact that we are here again with him dealing with the same problem.  It’s awfully hard to learn from something when you don’t actually own your actions.  I think that also made it difficult for jurors to trust that he wouldn’t do the exact same thing again, if given the chance.”

Jurors deliberated about two hours before returning with their punishment verdict.

Robinson will be eligible for parole when his time served plus any good conduct credit equals 15 years, Swain said.

After the sentence was pronounced, Robinson announced that he intended to appeal.

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