A Paris man who reportedly crashed his car and killed a passenger while on probation for an earlier alcohol-related crash will spend at least the next 10 years in prison.
Sixth District Judge Wes Tidwell on Thursday revoked probation for Clenton Eugene Neal, 54, and gave him the maximum sentence for two third-degree felony counts of intoxicated assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury as a result of a July 2017 incident.
Neal now faces murder charges for a second alcohol-related crash in August 2018 that took the life of a passenger in the vehicle Neal was driving when he reportedly rolled the car in a single-vehicle crash while on probation for the earlier conviction. Neal was first indicted in December 2018 on intoxicated assault with a vehicle charges and subsequently indicted on murder charges when the passenger died of his injuries.
In pronouncing sentence, Tidwell told Neal he had pretty much laughed in the face of probation by failing to follow court orders.
“I have an obligation to protect the citizens of this county, so I am sentencing you to a maximum 10 years,” Tidwell said.
Assistant Lamar County District Attorney Jill Drake said she is pleased with the sentence and will now proceed with the murder indictment.
“Mr. Neal was given the opportunity to make amends for his actions by completing community service, have an alcohol evaluation and follow any recommended treatment as well as complete the obligations to get a valid Texas drivers’ license and have a device installed on his vehicle to ensure that he does not drive after consuming alcohol,” Drake said. “Mr. Neal failed to abide by the terms of his probation — he lied to the district court judge about his driving habits and was involved in another motor vehicle collision after consuming alcohol.”
In presenting the state’s case, Drake called on Neal’s probation officer as well as the Department of Public Safety trooper who investigated the August 2018 accident. Court appointed Paris attorney Jerry Coyle presented no witnesses and asked the judge to be lenient in his sentencing.
After sentencing, Tidwell arraigned Neal on the murder indictment to which the accused pleaded “not guilty.”