Man Gets Life In Prison After 8th DWI Conviction

Comal County, Tex. (CBS HOUSTON) — A Guadalupe County man arrested for his eighth DWI has been sentenced to life in prison after being pulled over last February with a Blood Alcohol level equivalent to consuming 23.5 beers.

In late February, authorities say Cornelio Garcia-Mata was driving nearly six times the legal alcohol limit, when he was pulled over around 6 p.m. off Interstate 35 in New Braunfels, WOAI-TV reports. Garcia-Mata got his first DWI in 1990. While on probation, he picked up his second. Since he’s a habitual offender he faced 25 years to life in prison for his latest offense.

“Subsequent blood tests shows that his blood alcohol was .446,” Comal County Chief Felony Prosecutor, Sammy McCrary told the court, according to WOAI. “It was a good verdict for the community. That’s somebody we won’t have to worry about killing somebody.”

In a video posted on YouTube from Feb. 26, 2012, an officer’s dashboard camera shows Garcia-Mata swerving in his truck before being pulled over on suspicion of intoxication. “How much alcohol have you been drinking today?” asks the officer. “I’m not drinking,” Garcia-Mata replied in slurred speech.

Prosecutors said his blood-alcohol level was five times the legal limit.

He has been held since then at the Comal County Jail without bond after a hold was placed on his release by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was indicted in May, arraigned in June, and went to trial on Tuesday last week in front of a Comal County jury. They later returned a guilty verdict and a finding that Garcia-Mata’s vehicle was a deadly weapon because of his previous felony DWI convictions.

What would normally be a third degree felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, became a 1st degree felony with a possible sentence of 25 years to life, KGNB Radio reported. After deliberating for only 20 minutes, the jury returned with the maximum penalty: life in prison.

In 2008, Garcia-Mata served less than two years of a six-year sentence, McCrary told WOAI. Garcia-Mata had seven prior DWI convictions out of Guadalupe County, which included felony charges. Garcia-Mata now awaits transfer into the state prison system.

Garcia-Mata will be eligible for parole in 30 years – when he is 75 years old.

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