Intoxication Manslaughter Trial: Deas Bond Revoked

January 27, 2011
January 27, 2011
January 26, 2011
January 26, 2011
January 25, 2011
January 25, 2011
William Deas
William Deas
February 10, 2010
February 10, 2010

UPDATE: Friday, October 28, 1011

William Deas appeal bond has been revoked.

The State filed a motion to revoke Deas' bond on 10/19/11.

According to a report from the Scram monitor, Deas was drinking alcohol from 8:10 pm on Oct. 14, 2011 to 6:56 pm on Oct. 15th. The monitor transmitted information roughly every half hour that showed Deas was drinking, according to the State.

Deas posted the $50,000 appeals bond on Feb. 11, 2011 -- four days after being convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to conditions of his bail, he was to wear the scram ankle monitor to determine whether he was drinking, was prohibited from driving, and to not drink alcohol, use drugs or visit places or persons of harmful or disreputable characters.

According to the Wichita County Sheriff's Department web site, Deas was booked in to jail on October 28th.

DAY 6, Monday, February 7, 2011

After more than 3 hours of deliberations, a Wichita County jury has decided the punishment for William Deas. He has been sentenced to 8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The prosecution had asked the jury to return no less than 8 years, each year that Kevin Becker's son will spend without a father before he turns 18.

It was a very emotional day in court. One of the most tear-filled moments came when Becker's widow took the stand for a victim's impact statement. She sat sobbing and looked right at Deas. She told him "Make your life count - you've been given a second chance... don't be angry, bitter or resentful... I ask that you share your story... be thankful that you survived...you still have the opportunity to experience love, to be loved by a wife and kids... this is not about vengeance, we don't hate you, you have been forgiven...make every day count," she said.

Deas openly sobbed and told her he was sorry.

William Rivers Deas, 23, is accused of driving drunk in the overnight hours on February 10th, 2010. Police say Deas slammed into a utility truck, killing Time Warner Cable employee Kevin Becker.

Becker was up in an elevated bucket, repairing cable wires, in the 4800 block of Fairway Blvd.

Officers say the force of the impact ejected Becker from his truck and onto the street. He died at the scene.

After almost a week off due to effects from the February Freeze, Monday morning started with the jury being read the formal charge. After they were instructed, John Gillespie with the DA's Office went first with closing arguments.

Gillespie said this case was about the severe threat Deas posed to our community that night. He said that as drunk as Deas was… "he was unsafe at any speed". Gillespie also used the first part of his close to work to discredit the defense's expert witness.

The defense used their closing arguments to re-cap what character witnesses have said about Deas. They described him as hard working and industrious and a good person. They also worked to discredit the state's expert witness.

Gillespie closed out by asking the jurors to give Deas no less than 8 years in prison. One year for every year Kevin Becker's 10 year old son will spend without a dad until he turns 18.

Jurors were told to consider from 2 to 10 years and up to a 10 thousand dollar fine or community supervision.

DAY 4, January 28, 2011

Defense testimony continued Friday morning. A WFPD Officer that went to the hospital testified about his report.

The bulk of the testimony came from Dr. Eric Moody, a forensic engineer. Moody was hired by Deas' insurance company to investigate the accident.

He recreated the scene with diagrams and equations for the jury. He testified that there should have been utility work ahead signs used and cones put up in the Time Warner Cable work zone. He testified safety equipment should have been used.

A bartender from Maximus testified just before the court's lunch break. Previous testimony and surveillance video showed Deas at the gentleman's club the night of the crash. The bartender testified Deas had not personally consumed all the drink on his receipt. The bartender said Deas had also bought drinks for his friends. The bartender further testified that when Deas was paying his tab, he visually evaluated him for signs of intoxication. The bartender said Deas did not appear to be visibly intoxicated.

A number of character witnesses took the stand in the afternoon. The Defense called a member of Deas' church to the stand. Charles Weaver testified about taking a church youth group hiking trip with Deas to Colorado. He said Deas was very helpful.

Other friends and family members who took the stand described Deas as compassionate, hard-working and kind.

Diane Stewart, an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Midwestern State University and the Chief Nurse at Kell West Hospital, also took the stand. She said she taught Deas at MSU and is his boss at Kell West where he is employed as a House Tech. She said Deas is hard working and respectful.

Each time a character witness was up for cross-examination, John Gillespie with the D.A.'s Office asked if they would have given Deas a ride the night of the accident if he would have called them. All but Steward have said yes. Stewart cited Deas not having a number to reach her at that hour as a reason for her response.

DAY 3, January 27, 2011

Court resumed in the intoxication manslaughter trial against William Deas Thursday. Jurors  looked at surveillance video of Deas leaving a club around 1:50 a.m. on the night of the fatal crash. The video shows him stumble as he leaves, then pause at the door and exit.

The video also shows Deas ordering several drinks throughout the evening.

Kevin Becker's mother also took the stand.

John Gillespie called Kay Becker to the stand and asked her to recount getting the news about her son's death. Kay Becker called her son a "pillar" and said "he was our sunshine."

Kay Becker went on to recall getting the news the following morning. "I felt so bad for our oldest son," she said. "Having to come and give us that news." Kay Becker told the court, at first, she thought her son was merely injured, not dead. When she and her husband heard the news, she said, they both fell to the floor on their knees and her husband cried "No, no, no!"

"I've never had anything hurt so bad," said Becker's mom. "This has been the roughest year I've had in my life." While explaining the impact of their family's loss to the jury, Kay Becker said "I felt like I wanted to die. I wanted to be where Kevin was. I wanted to die."

Becker's sister Karen also took the stand Thursday. She recalled her brother as a great family man who knew how to have fun. The courtroom chuckled at a picture of Becker playing at Chuck E Cheese. Laughter turned to tears for Becker's sister as she continued her testimony.

The prosecution also called Becker's three children to the stand. Each in turn telling jurors how much they miss their dad.

Becker's wife gave gripping testimony. Choking back tears as she said "I just miss him real bad." The emotional courtroom was recessed after her testimony, jurors wiping tears from their eyes as they left the room. Some were visibly shaken twenty minutes later.

The defense got it's chance to begin calling witnesses after lunch. Deas' attorneys hammered away on the lack of safety measures taken by Becker the night of the accident. According to testimony from police and Time Warner officials, Becker was not wearing a safety harness the night of the crash. The defense also questioned witnesses at length about the lack of warning signs and traffic cones at the scene.

Testimony will begin again Friday at 9 a.m.

DAY 2, January 26, 2011

The punishment phase of the intoxication manslaughter trial against William Deas began on Wednesday.

23 year old Deas, wearing a crisp green button down shirt, stood and verbally announced his guilty plea to the jury.

The jury, composed of 5 men and 7 women, then heard opening statements from the prosecution.

John Gillespie, the lead prosecutor, told the jury, "What is the appropriate punishment for a defendant who chooses to go to a strip club and get drunk and drive."

Pointing to Deas, Gillespie said, "He was so drunk that he didn't care about anyone who got into his way."

Gillespie told the jury they ultimately have to determine punishment for Deas. "Punishment has to depend on the choices people make," said the Prosecutor. "He spent $10 for a tip at the strip club but not a dime for a cab."

The courtroom, packed with people, heard the prosecutor explain that the case is about the victim, Kevin Becker.

"This is a 38 year old father, a dad, who will never come home to his kids," said the Prosecutor, holding a picture of the victim to the jury.

"One of the saddest things," said Gillespie quietly, "February 10th was his son's birthday. He took the late night job to spend the day with his son."

Many in the courtroom began to tear up.

The defense attorney then had the chance to make opening statements.  Attorney Bob Estrada referred to Deas as Hunter. He told the jury,  "Hunter is responsible, and he accepted responsibility before you today."

Estrada explained Deas started crying in the hospital when he learned that he had killed someone. "Now you get to hear the whole story," said Estrada.

"This can happen to anybody who chooses to drink and drive...just as many of you do," finished the attorney.

After opening statements, the prosecution called the first witness, Dr. Morris E. Dennis with the Texas Transportation Institute.

Dr. Dennis studies the effects of alcohol in drivers though simulated tests and field studies. He explained that a 22 year old male with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 is 55-135 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver.

The court recessed for lunch about 11:30 a.m. and is scheduled to be back in session by 1 p.m.

When the court resumed, the prosecution called Officer Johnny Garcia with the Wichita Falls Police Department to the stand. Officer Garcia was called to the scene of the accident.

The Prosecutor, using a projector, presented pictures from the accident scene. The courtroom saw the white SUV that Deas was driving, smashed into the Time Warner Cable utility truck. Blood, broken glass, and mangled metal are clearly shown in the pictures. Officer Garcia explains what the pictures depict.

An image of a bloody phone was shown. The officer explained the phone was from Deas. Also, an image of the hard hat from the victim under a piece of metal was presented.

Seeing these pictures, some members of the courtroom look away, cover their eyes, or look down to the ground.

Then, pictures of the victim, Kevin Becker were shown. The victim's bloodied bloody was shown lying on the ground. The officer pointed out blood, vomit, and "brain matter." At that point, sobs were heard from people in the courtroom.

The last picture was a close up of the bloodied face of the victim.

Once the pictures were put away, Officer Garcia used a giant map to point out the route Deas took the night of the accident.

Under the Defense's testimony, Officer Garcia explained that there orange traffic cones were in the back of the utility truck and not on the street.

The officer said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol, but he did not see any open containers. The prosecutor asked where he thought the odor came from. Officer Garcia responded "from the driver."

Court recessed for 15 minutes.

Next witness for the state was Brain Deason, a paramedic with AMR. He said that as he approached the accident, the utility "bucket was visible from a distance."

The paramedic said that when he arrived on scene, Deas was trapped behind the wheel of the SUV. "He could night get out on his own," said Deason.

He said that when he approached Deas, he could smell a "strong" amount of alcohol.

Taz Wallace, an official with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Association. Wallace explained that after the accident, he obtained receipts from Maximums, the strip club where Deas was served. The receipts show the name of the defendant from the credit card transaction.

Wallace is expected to continue his testimony when court resumes Thursday at 9 am.

DAY 1, January 25, 2011

Jury selection for the punishment phase of a Texoma man facing Intoxication Manslaughter began on Tuesday

William Rivers Deas, 23, is accused of driving drunk in the overnight hours on February 10th, 2010. Police say Deas slammed into a utility truck, killing Time Warner Cable employee Kevin Becker.

Becker was up in an elevated bucket, repairing cable wires, in the 4800 block of Fairway Blvd.

Officers say the force of the impact ejected Becker from his truck and onto the street. He died at the scene.

Tuesday, William Rivers Deas entered a guilty plea in a Wichita County Courtroom for intoxication manslaughter.

Surrounded by his defense team and the District Attorney on Tuesday, Deas, wearing a blue button down shirt and glasses, looked down at the ground frequently.

After the guilty plea, 71 potential jurors filed into the 30th district court. A jury will be selected to determine punishment for Deas.

The state began the voir dire process. John Gillespie, a member of the district attorney's office and the head of the intoxication prosecution unit, addressed the men and women in the courtroom.

"The penal code defines intoxication manslaughter as homicide," he said. "The acts of one person that causes the death of another is homicide."

Gillespie then asked specific members their thoughts and view points regarding drunk driving. Every member of the courtroom was asked if they favored punishment or rehabilitation for someone convicted of intoxication manslaughter. One by one, the vast majority said "punishment." Many though, were hesitant with their answers.

Then he went through the potential jurors asking if they had any experience with any kind of drunk driving situation. Most of the members raised their hands and were asked to share their personal experiences.

At one point, a woman broke down in tears while reliving a friend's death because of a drunk driver.

The new District Attorney, Maureen Shelton, is assisting with the state's case.

After the lunch recess, the lead Defense Attorney Bob Estrada introduced the Deas team of attorneys. Estrada and Harold White, the former District Attorney, are co-counsels.

Estrada told the jury the defendant is a real person who likes to go by the name Hunter. He says Deas didn't mean to hurt anyone and that "this whole crime is defined by accident or mistake."

Estrada then asked the potential jurors if they had ever gotten behind the wheel of a car after one or two alcoholic drinks. Only five people said they did not drink and drive in the past.

After the defense questioning, all the attorneys spent a little over 30 minutes debating who should serve on the jury.

The 12 members of the jury pool will be back in the Courtroom at 9 am to hear opening statements.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6

Mary Moloney, Tim Barnosky and Newschannel 6 Staff contributed to this report.