Weatherford Democrat

December 15, 2011

Man sentenced to life for sixth DWI

Christin Coyne

PARKER COUNTY — A Parker County jury sentenced a man who urinated on himself twice and had a blood alcohol content level of four times the legal limit to life in prison in the conclusion of the 43rd District Court of Weatherford.

Steven Dewayne Knight, 45, of Poolville, was convicted by a Parker County jury Wednesday of driving while intoxicated, third or more offense, the afternoon of May 8 in Springtown.

“I think the length of the jury’s verdict was largely attributed to the fact that this was his sixth DWI, his fourth felony DWI, and his fifth felony conviction overall,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case with Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania. “At the time of our offense, he was on parole for a 25-year sentence he got on his last DWI offense.”

According to testimony presented during the trial Tuesday, restaurant owner Lorena Chadwell called police about Knight when she saw him stagger to his car and drive away.

A Springtown police officer testified that he saw a suspicious car a short time later and watched Knight pull into the Tiger Mart parking lot and go all the way around the building before stopping at a pump.

Knight then got out of the vehicle and began walking towards his patrol vehicle and the officer met him, the officer testified.

Knight, who smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech, began urinating on himself in front of the officer, the Springtown police officer testified.

The officer also found that Knight, who had two previous DWI convictions, was driving with a suspended license.

Knight reportedly refused a field sobriety test.

After he received the jury’s punishment verdict, 43rd District Judge Trey Loftin granted the prosecution’s request to stack the life sentence on top of the remaining years on the 25 year prison sentence the defendant will serve upon the revocation of his parole.

In the video played for the jury, Knight appeared slow to respond to the officer and was quickly handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle before being transported to the Springtown police station and Weatherford Regional Medical Center.

Knight complained of the handcuffs being too tight and became more and more belligerent, eventually talking crudely about the man’s wife and threatening to “kick his ass” when the officer removed the handcuffs, according to the officer’s testimony.

Knight wet himself again as they entered the technician’s room at the hospital to do a mandatory blood draw, the officer testified.

“This defendant was extremely intoxicated,” Catania said. “According to the officer’s testimony, when he urinated on himself, he didn’t even seem to notice.”

Knight’s blood alcohol content was later found to be .32, four times the legal limit.

Knight’s defense attorney, David Richards, argued that there was a reasonable whether Knight was driving the vehicle.

Knight told the officer he was not driving the vehicle and neither agency that searched Knight during time in Springtown or the Parker County Jail logged record of the keys to the vehicle, Richards told the jury.

“Where are the keys?” Richards said. “Where are the keys? That’s the question you should ask the state.”

Swain and Catania argued that it was a simple, clear case of driving while intoxicated with previous convictions.

“He knew what he was doing was wrong,” Swain said.