Samuel Juarez Jr. is guilty of manslaughter rather than murder, as the state had sought, in the Dec. 17, 2016 2016 drunken driving death of 8-year-old Daylan Franklin in Brownwood.
    35th District Court Steve Ellis, who convicted the 35-year-old Juarez late Wednesday afternoon, will convene the sentencing portion of the trial Thursday morning.
    Ellis said the state had not proven murder during the two-day trial. Manslaughter is a second degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, Ellis said in announcing the conviction. Ellis also found Juarez had used a deadly weapon — his car — and that finding will impact the number of years Juarez serves in prison before being eligible for parole, Ellis said.
    Juarez had a blood alcohol content of .276 — 3 1/2 times the legal limit — when the 1995 Ford Crown Victoria he was driving struck Daylan in the 1600 block of Sixth Street as Daylan played outside his grandmother’s home with his younger brother, according to testimony.
    The car hit Daylan in the street near his grandmother’s driveway. Daylan was knocked into the air and out of his shoes, and his body landed 60 feet from the area of impact, Department of Public Safety accident reconstruction experts testified.
    Murray told Ellis the state was trying Juarez under the felony murder rule, which applies when someone commits a felony other than manslaughter, and that felony results in a death.
    Defense attorney Lynn Inglesby said in his opening statement Tuesday morning the accident was unavoidable and would have happened whether or not alcohol was involved.
    Murray countered that Juarez was severely impaired and that Juarez’s ability to drive was hugely affected.
Judge: State’s evidence had problems
    Juarez was accused by indictment of causing Daylan’s death by driving while intoxicated after having been convicted twice previously for DWI in the Brown County Court-at Law, in 2002 and 2011.
    A third DWI conviction would have been a felony, but  Inglesby challenged the 2011 conviction. Juarez was sentenced to 10 days in the Brown County Jail. Inglesby argued that the conviction is void because the sentence fell below the minimum sentence required by law in a second conviction of DWI.
    A second DWI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor with a jail range of 30 to 365 days.
    Murray argued that case law did not support Inglesby’s theory. Case law showed a defendant can’t enjoy the benefits of a light sentence and then complain about the sentence when it no longer benefits him, Murray argued.
    Inglesby also argued that the state had actually presented elements of manslaughter, not murder. Inglesby said he wasn’t suggesting his client should “walk,” but said Juarez is guilty of DWI and manslaughter, not murder.
    Ellis, in announcing his verdict, said a DWI defendant must have two previous convictions before a felony case can go forward.
    “That is a void conviction,” Ellis said.
    Earlier Wednesday, DPS accident reconstruction experts said Juarez’s car left 22 feet of skid marks from the right tires and 19 feet of skid marks from the left tires. Calculations based on the skid marks showed Juarez’s car was traveling 31 mph when he applied the brakes, according to testimony.
    Dylan was transported to Brownwood Regional Medical Center and arrived in extremely poor condition, and did not respond to efforts to save him, Dr. Scot Morris and Dr. Dan Locker testified.
    Juarez left the scene of the accident and drove to the Eighth Street home of his mother and stepmother.
    “He came in and was traumatized, I guess you’d say,” Rose Sanchez said of her son. “He kept rubbing his head and he sant down and he said ‘I think I just ran over a child.’”
    Juarez’s stepfather, Raymundo Sanchez, drove to the accident and told Brownwood police Sgt. Stephanie Morgan, “I have something to tell you,” Rose Sanchez testified.