Criminally negligent homicide case dismissed

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Nov. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.

Charges stemming from a July 2011 double fatality wreck in Nursery were dismissed last month against a Victoria college student.

Factoring into the court's decision to dismiss the charges of criminally negligent homicide was evidence of prior accidents and improvements that have been and will be made to the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and Farm-to-Market Road 447.

First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Eli Garza signed a motion to dismiss the case against Logan T. Curtis last month.

Judge Robert C. Cheshire signed the order.

Curtis, 20, was charged with causing the deaths of Judy and David Sullivan, who were traveling in front of him in a 2006 Honda Accord on July 10, 2011.

Curtis, who was also traveling north on the highway, rear-ended the couple in his 2008 Ford F-150, according to earlier reports.

While there was some speculation Curtis was texting about the time of the accident, Garza said he reviewed Curtis' phone records and determined that was untrue. Curtis was also not intoxicated, Garza said.

Garza said back then, the roadway may not have had a clear division of the inside and turning lanes near the gas station.

Department of Public Safety troopers also could not determine whether Curtis was speeding because they use a formula reliant upon skid marks.

The two vehicles stuck and skidded together when they crashed. Data from the vehicles' black boxes, which are typically near the motor, could also not be uploaded by troopers for an unknown reason, he said.

"Victims have every right to be upset, but I have a job to do, and there is an oath that I have to abide by that I take very seriously," Garza said. He added that when a grand jury indicts a case, it may choose to evaluate the case based on probable cause, which is the lowest standard of proof.

He said justice would not be served if he "put someone through a trial because he wanted to punt it to or pawn it off on a jury."

"It's not the first time I've (dismissed a case), and it won't be the last," Garza said.

Curtis' attorney, George Filley, said he thought defensive driving courses spread the rumor his client was texting while driving.

He added that dashboard camera video showed troopers interviewed several witnesses at the scene who saw or heard the Sullivans' tires blow out.

The highway patrol sergeant at the time told the troopers to move on, and those witnesses were never contacted again, Filley said.

The DPS also did not impound the vehicles to check whether the tires were blown, Filley added.

"When it could have been looked into, it was too late," he said.

Curtis, a 20-year-old student at Texas A&M University, was coming from a retreat at the Victoria Catholic Spiritual Renewal Center. He was on his way to see family and friends in Mission Valley when the crash occurred.

"The tragic loss to the Sullivan family has weighed very heavily on Logan and his family since this terrible accident," Filley said.

In July 2011, the Victoria Metropolitan Planning Organization allocated $21,000 for a safety study of the intersection.

When asked Wednesday afternoon what improvement had been made since the fatal wreck, Helena Wright, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said that information would not be available until Thursday because engineers were in meetings.

In Garza's motion to dismiss, he said the department added flashing lights and reduced the speed limit from 70 to 55 mph. He wrote more changes to the intersection would occur in 2016.

Attorney Constance Filley-Johnson assisted the defense with the case.



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