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Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents Can Have Criminal Consequences

Two Houston teens could have received up to 20 years in prison after they were convicted last week on three counts of vehicular manslaughter.

On September 27, 2010, the now-18 year old and 19-year-old were believed to have been street racing in northwestern Houston. Shooting down the city streets at excessive speeds, one of the vehicles was travelling over an estimated 90 miles an hour when it struck a minivan, said prosecutors.

The minivan was carrying a 37-year-old mother, her 14-year-old son and her 6-year-old daughter. All three of them died at the scene of the car accident.

During the teens' trial, jurors heard testimony from the family's surviving father and husband. The loss of his spouse and children left a big hole in his life, and in the lives of the two remaining younger sons who were not in the car the day of the fatal car accident.

At trial, the teens denied racing their cars. Testimony was presented that, as dedicated participants to Future Farmers of America, the boys were on their way to take care of several livestock animals at Jersey Village High School the night of the accident. They admitted to speeding, driving in separate cars, about 10 to 15 miles over the 40 mph speed limit.

UPDATE: During the sentencing phase of the trial, the jury sentenced both boys to a spend a number of years in prison -- eight years for the teen whose car hit the minivan and six years for the other driver. Declaring that neither of the teens had taken responsibility for their actions, the judge sentenced both to spend 90 days in jail as a condition of their probation.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Teens could face 20 years in racing deaths," 8/30/11.

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