SAN MARCOS, Texas -- A Gonzales County woman faces murder charges after hitting and killing a San Marcos teen over the summer with her truck.
Alice Ramos was accused of driving drunk. The KVUE Defenders uncovered it's Ramos' fourth DWI arrest. Now the teen's mother questions if the justice system failed her son.
I don't understand how I don't remember anything, but it's probably best I don't, said Scott Hamm, who doesn t remember the August morning when a SUV hit his truck head-on on Highway 183 in Gonzales County.
The crash nearly crippled him and killed his little brother, Chet.
Their mother, Lynn, got the call a few hours later at her San Marcos home.
She said there's been a wreck and Scotty's been life-flighted and Chet didn't make it, said Lynn.
The accused driver was 50-year-old Ramos.
According to the affidavit, Ramos' blood contained three times the legal alcohol limit and tested positive for cocaine.
A KVUE Defenders investigation discovered it's her fourth DWI-related arrest, including three convictions since 1990.
She had an expired valid driver license at the time of the accident that killed Chet.
Her last DWI conviction was in 2004. Ramos was sentenced to five years probation, 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
I kinda felt like she just had a slap on the hand and there was no real punishment, said Lynn.
Turns out the prosecutor at the time could have recommended a stiffer sentence for Ramos in 2004. The law allowed up to 10 years probation or prison time.
Sometimes if the evidence isn't as strong, you would get a better deal, said Heather McMinn, the district attorney for Gonzales County.
McMinn is cautious about speculating why the former prosecutor recommended the sentence.
It's not out of the realm of possibilities that there were issues with the case, that there was five year probation, said McMinn.
One of those possibilities? Ramos refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test in 2004. The results could have provided a more compelling case.
State law now requires drivers to provide blood or breath samples after their third DWI arrest. That wasn't the case when Ramos was arrested the third time.
When we don't have the most important evidence, that creates a doubt and if the jury has a doubt, they acquit, said Clay Abbot with the Texas District Attorney Association.
Abbot said state law should require it ateveryDWI arrest. Arizona is the only state that does.
W.C. Kirkendall, now a judge, was the prosecutor in 2004. Over the phone he told the KVUE Defenders, I don't remember the case. Based on the information, it would have been a typical pea deal offered for a first felony offense without an accident.
While Chet's mother feels the justice system failed her son, she holds Ramos responsible.
I have forgiven her for what she's done. I actually pray for her. I pray that she finds God and that she finds peace and that she changes her life.
McMinn said even if Ramos was sentenced in 2004 to ten years in prison, she would likely have been out in two to three years and back on the road without any rehabilitation.