Saturday, July 20, 2024


Today the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas in Beaumont reversed an order issued by State District Judge Kelly Case which would have allowed a new punishment hearing for a man convicted of evading arrest in a vehicle. The Court of Appeals held that Case correctly determined that a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the offense when he originally heard the case, and that there was no reason for him to reconsider his own ruling and to conduct a second punishment hearing.

In February of this year, Case conducted a punishment hearing without a jury and sentenced Kevin Dewayne Sneed to imprisonment for ten years, and he found that Sneed used a vehicle as a deadly weapon during a lengthy high-speed chase involving Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies. In April, Case granted the defendant’s motion for a new trial because Case believed the evidence was insufficient to support his own finding of the use of a deadly weapon, and because of his uncertainty regarding the punishment level of the offense.

The Court of Appeals stated in its opinion that Sneed did use his vehicle as a deadly weapon and that Case’s original finding on the issue was correct. The Court noted that Sneed fled at speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h., narrowly avoided collisions with other vehicles, failed to slow down or stop at intersections, and continued to flee even after he struck a curb and blew out two tires. Sneed eventually abandoned his vehicle in the parking lot of a nightclub and was arrested after a foot chase.

The Court of Appeals also held that Sneed was correctly prosecuted for a felony of the third degree. The 2011 Legislature amended the evading arrest statute several times, but only the last of the amendments affected the punishment range, making a first offense in a vehicle a third degree felony.

This was the second time the State has successfully appealed one of Case’s orders. In February of this year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Case’s order for additional DNA testing in the Larry Ray Swearingen capital murder. In addition, Case has been the subject of five mandamus proceedings, three of which resulted in the Court of Appeals finding that Case was required to withdraw unlawful orders. A fourth mandamus petition was dismissed after Case withdrew his own order, and a fifth remains pending in the Court of Appeals.

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