Two convicted of DWI, one goes free, other gets 90 days

ROBERT M. ARTRIPE

ROBERT M. ARTRIPE

The Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office recently reported convictions in two separate cases of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

A jury convicted Robert Montgomery Artripe of driving while intoxicated on Oct. 10 after deliberating for only 17 minutes. County Court at Law No. 4 Presiding Judge R. H. “Sandy” Bielstein then sentenced Artripe to three days in jail, giving him credit for three days he’d already served.

Driving while intoxicated in this case is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of three days up to 180 days in the county jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. The court did not assess a fine nor court costs. The 35-year old Rosenberg man was arrested in Rosenberg in March 2012 after running a red light in front of a Department of Public Safety trooper.

LUIS ANTONIO ROMERO

LUIS ANTONIO ROMERO

According to Assistant District Attorney Brandon Draper, Artripe was driving northbound on Highway 36 on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012, at 3 a.m. when he ran a red light and failed to signal his turn onto the Highway 59 frontage road. Seeing this, Texas DPS Trooper Alton Tomlin IV stopped the defendant. When he did, he noticed Artripe had slurred speech, red glassy eyes, and a strong odor of an alcoholic drink on his breath.

When the defendant got out of his car, Trooper Tomlin also noticed that Artripe was unsteady on his feet as he walked. Based on his observations, the Trooper evaluated the defendant for intoxication. During the investigation, Artripe admitted to drinking 10 beers in 10 hours, but refused to provide a breath or blood sample that would show how intoxicated, or sober, he was.

On the eve of trial, the court suppressed video and field sobriety test evidence upon a motion by the defense, and the jury was only able to consider the testimony of Trooper Tomlin’s personal observations as evidence of Artripe’s guilt.

In closing arguments, the state highlighted Trooper Tomlin’s testimony and refuted the defense’s notion that the jury heard “no evidence” of intoxication. The jury agreed, rendering a guilty verdict in less than 20 minutes.

“I’m proud of the jury for recognizing Trooper Tomlin’s excellent police work and rendering swift justice,” said Brandon Marc Draper, lead prosecutor on the case.

Artripe was eligible to receive probation.

Assistant District Attorneys Draper and Stacie Carr prosecuted the case. Attorney Armen Merjanian represented the defendant.

Man gets 90 days

A jury convicted Luis Antonio Romero of Driving While Intoxicated on Oct. 5 after deliberating for just 30 minutes. Judge Robert J. Kern then sentenced Romero to 90 days in the county jail. The 42-year old Houston man was arrested in Missouri City after almost crashing into a police car in May 2014.

According to Assistant District Attorney Chris Ludwig, Romero was stopped near 1 a.m. after running a red light and almost striking a police car on May 18, 2014. The defendant admitted to drinking several beers earlier in the evening and six beer bottles were found throughout the vehicle – three of them open, and not all of them empty. Officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Romero and observed him to have slurred speech and red glassy eyes.

Police evaluated the defendant for intoxication using the standardized field sobriety tests after which he was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Romero also refused to provide a sample of his breath or blood for alcohol testing. Two other passengers were present in the vehicle and were also arrested for public intoxication.

“I would like to thank the Missouri City Police Department for removing this intoxicated, dangerous driver from our roads and the members of the jury for holding him accountable with their verdict of guilty,” said Ludwig.

District Attorney John Healey complimented visiting Judge Kern by noting “Judge Kern’s sentence should send a strong message of support to those who labor in the criminal justice system who take DWI laws seriously, and a strong message of deterrence to people who take those laws lightly.”

Romero was tried in County Court at Law No. 3 before Kern. Driving while intoxicated in this case is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. Assistant District Attorneys Ludwig and Madison Limbacher prosecuted the case. Attorney David Stiller represented the defendant.

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