Brownwood man sentenced to 20 years in connection with 8-year-old boy's death

BROWNWOOD, Texas - A 35-year-old Brownwood man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a hit-and-run accident that left an 8-year-old boy dead.

The sentencing came a day after Samuel Juarez Jr. was convicted of manslaughter.

Juarez hit Daylan Franklin with his vehicle in December as he played outside his house. Juarez was driving drunk at the time and on his cell phone.


PHOTOS: SKETCH ART OF SENTENCING --} brownwood -boy/641656511

Franklin's family is outraged by the sentence.

"I don't feel like the punishment was fair," Robert Fell, the child's grandfather, said. "My grandson did not deserve this. He was a very, very giving child."

His mother doesn't believe justice was served.

"It was a slap in the face honestly," Venessa Franklin said. "I don't think the 20 years was enough for him. My son is never going to come back. I don't think that was right at all. I think he deserved more."

Franklin's grandmother Teresa Fell took the witness stand three times during the trial.

Juarez struck her grandson as he played in front of her house on 6th street. She doesn't feel any closure by the verdict.

"I don't think it's fair at all. It's not fair to none of the family," Fell said. "We have to deal with this for the rest of our lives and it's just not fair...I'm very disappointed."

Judicial District Judge Steve Ellis said in court Wednesday Juarez couldn't be convicted of murder, as was his original charge, because there was only one Driving While Intoxicated conviction on his record.

"I think the judge made the legally correct decision," his lawyer Lynn Ingalsbe said Thursday. "The difference between a murder conviction carrying a life sentence and a manslaughter carrying a maximum 20 year sentence is obvious."

In a previous 2011 DWI offense, Juarez served 10 days in jail and paid a "$427 fee" to the Brown County Court-at-Law, thus voiding that conviction. That offense plus a 2002 DWI conviction were both listed on Juarez's murder indictment.

Thirty-fifth Judicial District Attorney Micheal Murray said he doesn't believe the criminal justice system failed.

"I think that really in this case Mr. Juarez was the one that failed our community, not the other way around," Murray said.

Court records showed Juarez had six run-ins with law enforcement related to drinking and driving before the deadly wreck.

KTXS asked Murray why did Juarez receive such a short jail sentence in 2011, despite his extensive history of drinking and driving.

"I cannot answer for what happens in offices outside of my office or for courts below the court i'm involved in," Murray said.

Murray said he hopes this conviction sends a message to other potential drunk drivers that prosecutors will seek the highest penalty in Brown County.

Previous story:

The mother of an 8-year-old Brownwood boy killed by a drunk driver says she forgives her son's killer but believes justice needs to be served.

Samuel Juarez Jr., 35, was convicted of manslaughter with on Wednesday in the death of Daylan Franklin. Witnesses are testifying Thursday in the 35th Judicial District Court during the sentencing phase of Juarez's trial

Juarez hit Franklin with his vehicle last December as he played outside his house. He was driving drunk at the time and on his cell phone.

Prosecutors originally indicted him for murder with a deadly weapon. But, 35th Judicial District Judge Steve Ellis said in court Wednesday, that he could only convict Juarez on manslaughter because in one of his previous DWI convictions he paid a "$427 fee" to the Brown County Court-at-Law.

Juarez previously waived his right to a jury trial.

Venessa Franklin, Daylan's mom, said in court she became depressed following her son's death.

"My baby is gone and I have to go to the cemetery to see him. [Juarez]'s daughter can go to the jail to see her dad," she said.

She said his death has changed her youngest son. He has developed anger issues.

"We're going to have to live with this forever because of his mistakes," Franklin said.

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