LIVINGSTON – A 20-year-old Livingston man was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week after being found guilty of two counts of intoxication manslaughter by a Polk County jury.
Caleb Luke Edwards was convicted in connection with the deaths of Jacob Klein, 17, and Tiffany Seamons Lewandowski, 33, both of Goodrich. The two were killed Dec. 8, 2012 during a collision that occurred on State Highway 146 south of Livingston.
During the trial that began on Monday, Dec. 8, before District Judge David Wilson, First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Joe Martin presented evident showing that Edwards had been drinking alcohol and was driving a friend's Dodge Ram 3500 truck northbound on SH 146.
A Chevrolet S-10 pickup with Klein and Lewandowski was traveling southbound, returning home from a Christmas party. At about 10:30 p.m., the two vehicles collided, killing Klein and Lewandowski instantly.
The jury heard from Arthur West, the adoptive father of both Lewandowski and Klein. West had arrived at the scene of the crash moments later and testified he heard Edwards admit he had consumed four or five beers and a mixed drink containing whiskey before the accident.
Containers of alcohol were found at the scene of the crash including beer cans and bottles, as well as a bottle of Crown Royal Whiskey.
Trooper Alan Stanton with the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol also described the crash scene. He told the jury he made contact with Edwards shortly after the collision and was told by Edwards that he had been drinking.
A subsequent test of Edwards' blood, which was drawn almost two hours after the crash, indicated he had a blood alcohol level of .085, which is above the legal limit in Texas.
Stanton also testified regarding an accident reconstruction that he performed after the crash. The evidence established that Edwards' vehicle entered the southbound lane Klein and Lewandowski's vehicle had been traveling in and struck passenger side to passenger side.
After returning a verdict of guilty, the jury proceeded to hear evidence in the punishment phase of the trial.
Testimony from several witnesses revealed that Edwards had repeatedly violated the conditions of his bond while awaiting trial, particularly by consuming alcohol, driving a vehicle not equipped with an alcohol breath detection device and by having sexual relations with an underage female.
After a day of punishment evidence, the jury sentenced Edwards to 10 year's in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on both counts with a $10,000 fine. As a result, Edwards will not be eligible for parole until he completes half of the sentence.
Following the trial, Martin expressed his thanks to the jury for their verdict and service, as well as all of the law enforcement agencies that made it possible to bring justice to the two victims.
Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon added that he "hoped that the jury's verdict would send a message to the community that the consequences of the irresponsible use of alcohol combined with the operation of a motor vehicle are just too great. The message is very simple: 'Just don't drink and drive.'"