Driver who struck and killed bicyclist enters no contest plea, receives 2 years probation
By Dianna Wray
Feb. 11, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
More than seven months after she struck and killed a bicyclist, Six Mile resident Dana Durham was sentenced to two years probation on Friday.
Last July, Durham was driving east on Farm-to-Market Road 1090 when her car struck Six Mile resident Henry Allison's bicycle.
Durham was trying to pass Allison, who was also travelling east on the road.
According to a news release from Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard, Durham thought she had room to pass Allison, but failed to move over far enough due to oncoming traffic.
Allison died of his injuries and Durham was indicted on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Durham entered a plea of no contest on Friday and was sentenced to two years probation under deferred adjudication and fined $1,500. Durham was also ordered to pay $1,300 restitution to Allison's family to cover the cost of the cremation.
Heard's office received 21 letters of recommendation, pleading for leniency, Heard said, including letters from the victim's family.
"She was a member of the same church as the deceased and she had a lot of friends who wrote letters pleading for leniency. She had a lot of people who thought highly enough of her to write letters asking for leniency," Heard said.
While he has seen this kind of response before, Heard said it doesn't happen very often.
"It's not unheard of, but it's pretty unusual," he said.
As part of her sentence, Durham was ordered to provide satisfactory medical proof that she is medically safe to operate a vehicle. Durham has had problems with her eyesight, Heard said. The sentence also states that she is not to drive a vehicle with child passengers unless they are family members.
Durham has since been cleared for driving, Heard said.
"She's had problems with her eyesight in the past, but her doctors have cleared her for driving and the Texas Department of Public Safety has cleared her as well," Heard said.
Heard noted that the case was a difficult one, with attitudes in the community supporting complete acquittal to conviction. Durham had no criminal history, Heard noted in the release.
Durham's sentence is deferred probation. If any of the terms or conditions of her sentence are violated, she can face the full range of punishment for her offense, serving up to one year in the Calhoun County Jail.
But if she successfully completes the probation, the charge could be dismissed.