Serial drunken driver appeals life term

Nov. 28, 2012 at 6:47 PM
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NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A Texas man sentenced to life in prison this month for his eighth drunken driving conviction is appealing his conviction.

Lawyers for Cornelio Garcia-Mata of Seguin say the police officers who arrested him refused to get him a Spanish-speaking officer and made fun of his request, the San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday. Prosecutors say that is irrelevant to his crime, driving with a blood-alcohol level that tested at 0.446, five times the legal limit.

If the sentence stands, Garcia-Mata, 45, will not be eligible for parole for 30 years because jurors found that his truck was a deadly weapon. The jury deliberated for only 20 minutes on Nov. 16 before deciding on the sentence.

Cornal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp said that Garcia-Mata was first convicted of drunken driving in 1990, and many of his subsequent offenses occurred while he was on probation or parole. He was on parole after spending two years in prison when he was arrested in New Braunfels after other drivers told police he had come close to hitting other vehicles.

Defense lawyer David Wyrick filed a motion Monday seeking a new trial. He said jurors did not see a video that showed police conduct during the arrest.

"Officers were laughing about defendant's request for a Spanish-speaking officer and did not take his rights or the investigation seriously," Wyrick said in court papers.

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