Weatherford Democrat

September 6, 2013

With trooper suspended, Walton DWI dropped


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

Parker County prosecutors won’t be pursuing a drunk driving charge against Walmart heiress Alice Louise Walton.

Parker County Attorney John Forrest said the case will be dropped because the trooper who arrested Walton on a charge of driving while intoxicated on Oct. 7, 2011, has been placed on suspension and can’t be called to testify.

“Ms. Walton is pleased that the matter has been completely and correctly resolved without charges being filed,” Walton’s attorney, Dee J. Kelly, said in a statement this week.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Jeffrey M. Davis has been on paid suspension for more than five months and prosecutors have been in limbo waiting for DPS to resolve that issue, Forrest said.

The DWI case hinges on the trooper’s testimony regarding a field sobriety test, according to Forrest. He said the case came down to the credibility of the witnesses and Davis is unavailable to testify.

Davis was suspended in February pending the outcome of an internal investigation involving allegations of misconduct, DPS Press Secretary Tom Vinger said.

On Walton’s 62nd birthday, Davis stopped Walton, who was driving a silver Lexus SUV, for speeding 71 mph in a 55 mph unattended construction zone on Interstate 20 in Weatherford, according to DPS. 

Walton appeared to have a strong alcoholic beverage odor on her breath, bloodshot or glassy eyes, a staggered walk, and unsteady balance and was unable to perform field sobriety tests, Davis wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

She refused to provide a breath sample at the scene and at the jail, according to DPS.

Walton was returning home from a birthday dinner with friends at a Fort Worth restaurant when she was pulled over, Kelly said in a statement in 2011.

“She accepts full responsibility for this unfortunate incident and deeply regrets it,” Kelly said at the time.

Walton was pulled over for speeding rather than weaving or other apparent drunk driving signs and there was no blood or breath sample showing elevated levels of alcohol, Forrest noted.

Several factors appeared to play a part in why a warrant was not sought for evidence regarding Walton’s blood-alcohol level at the time.

A DPS spokesman said no prior DWI convictions showed up when her criminal history was checked the night of her arrest and Walton was charged with a first offense DWI, a class B misdemeanor.

However, the Democrat confirmed that Walton does have a previous conviction for DWI in Arkansas in 1998.

If there is a refusal to provide a breath or blood sample, troopers in Parker County typically seek a warrant for a blood draw in cases of a suspected felony offense or a death investigation, according to DPS Senior Trooper Gary Rozzell.

Though law enforcement officers in the Metroplex may seek a blood draw warrant while investigating a suspected first or second DWI offense (both misdemeanors), judge availability and cost limit that in Parker County, according to Rozzell.

Walton’s driving record has been in the news several times.

According to news accounts, Walton was also involved in a 1989 wreck in Arkansas that resulted in the death of a 50-year-old woman though no charges were reportedly filed.