From Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon Jr.
2014-04-13 — When Christopher Campbell received 10 years probation in 2011 for driving drunk and causing a wreck that killed a woman, he promised never to end up in Judge Ruben Gonzalez’s courtroom again.
It was a promise he didn’t keep.
On Friday, Gonzalez revoked Christopher Elton Campbell’s probation and sentenced him to 10 years in prison after Prosecutors Lloyd Whelchel and Anndi Risinger presented evidence that Campbell continued to drink and also worked in bars — blatant violations of his probation.
Campbell’s case garnered attention in April 2011 when he reached an agreement with prosecutors and, with the approval of the victim’s family, received 10 years probation after pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter for the August 9, 2009, death of Renee Horton. At that time, Prosecutor Whelchel came up with unique probation conditions designed to remind Campbell daily of the pain and devastation he caused by drinking and driving.
Campbell was ordered to wear a bracelet with Horton’s name on it, reimburse Horton’s mother for funeral expenses, and spend Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, and the dates of Horton’s birth and death in the Tarrant County Jail. Most importantly, he was also ordered not to drink or possess alcohol.
During that hearing in April 2011, Campbell apologized to Horton’s family and promised the Judge he would never end up in his courtroom again.
Since that time, however, prosecutors have received information that Campbell has repeatedly violated his probation conditions.
During a hearing on Friday, they presented evidence that Campbell has been seen at a north side bar and has worked at two bars, even after his probation officer told him he is not allowed to work at bar.
He has also had 17 violations for not blowing into an alcohol detecting device at his home at the scheduled times. His ankle monitor has also detected alcohol consumption on at least one occasion.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that Campbell received permission to travel to Slidell, La., in February 2013 to visit his sick grandmother—but he also went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
During the hearing on Friday, Campbell admitted violating his probation by working in bars but denied consuming alcohol.
Campbell caused the crash that killed Horton on August 9, 2009.
He was driving a Honda Civic at 3:15 a.m. when a Fort Worth police officer clocked him going 53 mph in a 40-mph zone in the 1600 block of South University Drive.
The officer was trying to catch up to the car, which radar showed had reached 93 mph, when he came upon a wreck. Campbell had rear-ended a vehicle stopped at a red light at West Seven Street. Horton, 24, a passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene. The driver of the vehicle she was riding in was injured but survived. Campbell and his 16-year-old brother, a passenger in his car, were also injured. Campbell had a blood alcohol level of .12— 1 ½ times over the legal limit of .08.
Drunk driver who received probation in 2011 for deadly crash is headed to prison
“Mr. Campbell was given a great opportunity when the victim’s family approved him receiving probation,” said Prosecutor Lloyd Whelchel. “He failed to take advantage of that chance and he did the one thing he was not supposed to do—and that was drink again. His actions showed he had no remorse for what he had done and the life he had taken. The Judge gave him the only sentence that he could and that was the maximum.”