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Man gets 40 years in prison after fifth conviction for DWI

By Jessica Priest
Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.
Updated Oct. 25, 2013 at 5:25 a.m.

Ernest Newman

Criminal History

Arrested 11/27/1971

• By Victoria County Sheriff's Office

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

• Court disposition: Convicted

Arrested 3/18/1974

• By Victoria County Sheriff's Office

•  Offense: Moving traffic violation

• Court disposition: Convicted

Arrested 2/16/1975

• By Port Lavaca Police Department

•  Offense: Drunkenness

•  Court disposition: Convicted

Arrested 3/5/1975

• By Victoria Police Department

•  Offense: Moving traffic violation

•  Court disposition: Convicted

Arrested 12/31/1976

• By Port Lavaca Police Department

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

Court probation: Four years

Arrested 1/16/1977

• By Goliad County Sheriff's Office

•  Offense: Moving traffic violation

•  Court disposition: Convicted

Arrested 9/23/1981

•  Arresting Agency: Not available

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

•  Court disposition: Convicted

•  Sentence: Four years (concurrent)

Arrested 9/23/1981

•  Arresting Agency: Not available

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

•  Court disposition: Convicted

•  Sentence: Three years (concurrent)

Arrested 10/30/1983

•  By Victoria Police Department

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

•  Court disposition: Convicted

•  Sentence: Two years

Arrested 11/27/1989

•  Arresting Agency: Not available

•  Offense: Driving under influence of liquor

•  Court disposition: Not available

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety

A Victoria man who crashed into a mailbox and fence was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison.

This was Ernest D. Newman's fifth conviction for driving while intoxicated since the 1970s.

Newman, 63, was arrested Nov. 4 after driving off the curve on Coletoville Road, running off the roadway and crashing his truck through a mailbox and fence.

Newman refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the scene or at the jail, Assistant District Attorney Teresa Reyes-Bonar said.

"Once you have two or more convictions, a blood sample can be taken automatically, even if you refuse," she said.

Victoria County Sheriff's Office deputies, however, decided to err on the side of caution. They did not take a sample because they did not know whether this rule would apply for his convictions from the 1980s, she said.

Deputy Randy Williams and a witness testified instead. The witness was driving near Newman on U.S. Highway 59 near the Raisin Windmill gas station that day, feared for her life and called 911, Reyes-Bonar said.

"We are all very fortunate that no one was injured in the Nov. 4 accident. Hopefully, the 40-year sentence will deter others from drinking and driving," she said.

Defense attorney Brent Dornburg said that because the 1980s convictions were from Victoria County, deputies should have known to take a sample.

He asked that a doctor evaluate Newman's mental competence. Newman was found to be competent and took the stand in his own defense, where he had a different version of events.

Newman said the crash involved a second vehicle, a black Suburban driven by members of a drug cartel, and that the deputy's dashboard camera video was altered.

"(He said) the people in the black Suburban forced him to ingest a white, powdery substance with some liquid that caused him to lose his memory," Dornburg said.

Dornburg did not know whether any people were hurt during Newman's previous DWI arrests.

"I really feel for Mr. Newman. He has been to prison twice before, which made him eligible for that punishment range of 25 years to life. He's a nice man," he said.

Assistant District Attorney Johna Stallings assisted Reyes-Bonar in the case. Judge Robert C. Cheshire presided.

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