Jury to decide fate of drunk-driver who struck, killed HPD officer

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM

HOUSTON—A Harris County jury will decide if the drunk-driving suspect who killed a Houston police officer last year deserves life in prison.

HPD officer Kevin Will died May 29, 2011, while he was investigating a motorcycle accident in the eastbound lanes of the I-610 at Yale. A Volkswagen Beetle driven by Johoan Rodriguez, 26, barreled through a police road block that had shut down the entire eastbound lanes and hit Officer Will at an estimated 90 miles an hour. The impact severed both of Will’s legs. He was killed instantly.

Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen who had been deported twice before, had a blood-alcohol content more than two times the legal limit. Officers who pulled him from the vehicle said he appeared to have no clue what he had just done. But in the year that followed, Rodriguez admitted his guilt without a trial. Now a jury will decide if he gets as little as probation or the maximum sentence of life in prison for intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer.

The first two days of the penalty phase have been emotional, with even Rodriguez sobbing as he listened to prosecutors describe the crash in graphic detail. Dozens of HPD officers have filled the court each day to witness the proceedings. The penalty phase of the trial is expected to last the entire week.

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