SAN ANGELO, TX — Monday morning, Carlos Salazar, 30, who was issued deferred adjudication for manslaughter in 2011, appeared in court to address the violations of his probation after a recent driving while intoxicated arrest.
Salazar was serving a probated sentence for an incident on Feb. 16, 2010. Seven years ago, Salazar had been drinking at the bar formally known as the Steel Penny Pub. He then left the bar's parking lot in his 2001 Chevrolet pickup and drove to the 3300 block of Knickerbocker Rd. where he struck a man, David Camp, riding on his bicycle.
San Angelo Police Department officer Brian Gesch responded to the crash that night. Yesterday, Gesch appeared in court to testify and recalled helping medics with Camp, as he was in critical condition, before performing the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) on Salazar.
Gesch recalled smelling the odor of alcohol on Salazar when he first approached him. Salazar admitted to drinking at least six to seven beers that day, a 40-ounce Bud Ice and a gin and tonic. His blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was recorded at .21, which is almost three times the legal limit of .08 BAC. Salazar was arrested and transported to the Tom Green County Jail and held on a $35,000 bond.
Camp was transported to a local San Angelo hospital where he later died from his injuries.
The owner of the Steel Penny Pub, Ed Fawcett, voluntarily gave up his license to sell alcohol following the death of Camp and decided to close the bar rather than pay for a robust legal defense. Fawcett said he made these actions freely and did not admit guilt in the allegations against his bar. He sold the Steel Penny Pub, a storied live music venue on College Hills Blvd. The venue is now called The Penny Taphouse.
District Judge Ben Woodward dismissed Salazar’s intoxicated manslaughter charge after his plea of guilty, and issued him five years deferred adjudication for the offense in 2011.
Salazar's probation began in April 2011 and was set to end in April 2016. However, in February 2016, less than three months before his probation was to end, Salazar was caught again driving while intoxicated in Sweetwater. The State called for a motion to revoke probation for this violation, among others.
In court yesterday, the State called their first witness, Austin Carrasco, a police officer with the Sweetwater Police Department, to detail the events surrounding this year's DWI arrest. The evening of the offense, Carrasco witnessed Salazar attempt to make a right turn. While turning, Salazar's passenger-side wheels struck a nearby curb. After the incident, Carrasco followed the defendant and watched him drive the vehicle into the yard of a house. Salazar began to back-up, prompting Carrasco to stop his vehicle before Salazar backed into his law enforcement vehicle.
After pulling back into the yard, Carrasco recalled walking up to Salazar and he said he immediately smelled alcohol on his breath. He administered the SFST on him, and after witnessing multiple clues from the three-part test, Carrasco asked Salazar to take a breathalyzer test. Salazar agreed to take the test, however, when instructed multiple times to blow into the straw, he would not do so. After determining probable cause, Carrasco arrested him for DWI. Upon further investigation, police determined the house with the lawn Salazar had drove onto was owned by Salazar.
Salazar’s defense attorney, Gerald Ratliff, said Salazar would take a plea of not true for the State's amended motion to revoke probation on three of the suspected violations. The first was to exclude the driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, since Salazar was dismissed of the charge in Nolan County. The other violations of Salazar's plea were failure to submit probation paperwork to the Tom Green County Probation Department on several listed dates and failure to report the DWI to his probation officer..
Salazar pleaded true to using alcohol on the night of DWI charge.
Natalie Rodriguez with Tom Green County probation confirmed yesterday afternoon that those on probation have seven days to report any interaction with law enforcement. In Salazar's instance, along with the DWI incident, her department recommended the court order the suspension of Salazar’s probation.
Next, the son of David Camp testified. He spoke of how challenging it was not having his father with him during high school. He concluded, “I don’t understand how the situation happened.” He added that it was hard for him to see the white bicycle memorial on College Hills displayed in memory of his father every day.
After the State rested, the defense council called Salazar to testify. Ratliff made sure to make note of the people dependent upon Salazar for support. Those people included six employees on his payroll, his wife and daughter, and the community he serves in Sweetwater.
Salazar asked the court for one more chance and to extend his probation. Ratliff said the recent DWI brought him to where he needed to be mentally and kept him moving forward.
Prosecutor John Best, in cross-examination, asked Salazar if killing David Camp wasn't a big enough wake-up call for him.
“You get a chance to move on, David Camp does not,” Best told Salazar.
In his closing remarks, Best stood and directed his attention at Salazar. “You killed a man while having .21 blood alcohol concentration, almost three times over the legal limit.” He added that the most important rule of his probation was broken when he decided to drink alcohol and operate a vehicle.
“We all make choices, and killing a person must bring a heavy burden, however, it’s a choice he decided to make,” Best stated.
Best added that Salazar's request for another chance shows that Salazar did not respect the fact that a felony manslaughter charge was being held over him with the probation. The fact he chose to drive while drinking two months before his probation expired wasn't enough of a reminder for what was at stake, Best said.
“Another person could have been seriously hurt or killed,” Best argued. “It’s time to make a lesson of this.”
“[A judgment on this] lets Tom Green County, Sweetwater, and Nolan County know that driving while drinking will not be tolerated,” Best concluded.
After a short recess, the court was called back for Salazar’s sentencing. Judge Brock Jones officially revoked the probation and issued the sentence for manslaughter.
Brock gave Salazar a five-year sentence in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.