Three strikes – he’s out!

CONROE – A Montgomery County jury sentenced a repeat offender to life in prison on Wednesday in the 435th District Court of Judge Michael T. Seiler, following the defendant’s third driving while intoxicated conviction.

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Dennis Kay “Popeye” Goains, 48, of Conroe was arrested and charged with his latest DWI in February 2008 by Conroe Police Officer Nichols in the area of SH 105 and E.Loop 336 in Conroe.

Goains had been to prison four times already, with a criminal history including two counts of burglary of a habitation, forgery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in addition to his two prior DWI convictions. Those factors enhanced the charges against him and provided jurors with the opportunity to give him a much stiffer sentence than would otherwise be possible.

Goains never took the stand. The prosecution and the defense made impassioned pleas, but in the end, one side won big.

In closing, prosecutor Darla Faulkner called Goains a “thief, a liar and a drunk,” and said he proved “over and over and over that he should not be in society.”

“Someone once told me that a second before an Intoxication Manslaughter is committed, a DWI is committed,” Faulkner told the jury. “This offense is very serious.”

Goains’ attorney begged the jury to show her client mercy, asking them to “recognize that Driving While Intoxicated, but for his prior convictions, would be a misdemeanor.”

Apparently, the strategy of reminding the jury Goains was a repeat offender failed miserably, since it took them only an hour and a half to decide Goains deserved the maximum sentence of life in prison.

Faulkner was pleased with the sentence, saying it sent a message that Montgomery County residents are tired of intoxicated drivers being put back on the streets and tired of “giving people chance after chance, and they continue to commit more crimes.”

Conroe Police Officer Nichols stopped and arrested Goains on his latest DWI charge and Faulkner said Nichols did “an outstanding job,” and that his experience and hard work were responsible for the outcome of the case.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon and First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant were present for Goains’ sentencing and were also pleased with the outcome.

MCSO deputies escorted Goains out of the courtroom and transported him to the Montgomery County Jail where he will await transfer to the Texas Department of Corrections. As they waited for the elevator, Goains turned and looked out a window at the street below.

He paused for a moment and then turned back toward the elevator, with Faulkner’s words still hanging in the air, “This defendant isn’t sitting here because of one poor decision or one poor choice, but he’s here today because of a lifetime of poor choices and he is the only person to blame…”

Goains will be 78 years old before he is eligible for parole.

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