Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bryan man found guilty of criminally negligent homicide

Bryan man found guilty of criminally negligent homicide

Eagle Staff Writer

A Bryan man whose trailer came loose from his truck and killed a woman was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide Tuesday by a Brazos County jury.

The eight-woman, four-man panel took more than four hours to convict John Guzman Tello after a two-day trial in the 361st District Court.

Tello, 32, did not properly hitch a 16-foot trailer to his pickup on Oct. 16. The trailer came loose from the truck and struck Pat Supak as she was walking along Copperfield Drive.

Supak, a former Bryan teacher, died later that day at St. Joseph Regional Health Center.

Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner said the jury sent a message with its verdict that care must be exercised.

“We appreciate the jury struggling with a difficult issue, and hopefully this will raise awareness and ultimately save lives,” Turner said.

Judge Steve Smith will sentence Tello for the state jail felony in the next 30 days. He faces up to two years in prison or five years of probation and a possible $10,000 fine.

In his closing arguments, Turner said Tello’s actions were “convenient to him but dangerous to the public at large.”

The trailer was not connected to the truck by chains — as required by law, Turner said. The trailer was loaded toward the back, placing pressure on the hitch, he said.

Turner asked jurors to consider the “common good” a guilty verdict would bring so a “tragedy like that wouldn’t happen again.”

John Quinn, Tello’s attorney, reiterated his message to jurors on the first day of the trial that “not every accident is a crime.”

Quinn said Tello’s actions — driving 20 mph that day —show he was not being lax.

Tello also immediately called 911 and “griped” when emergency crews were not on the scene immediately, Quinn said.

Quinn called on Lane Thibodeaux, a personal injury lawyer, to give expert testimony regarding the legal definitions of negligence. But Judge Steve Smith did not allow Thibodeaux’s testimony because he believed the jury understood the charge against Tello.

Quinn presented no other witnesses, and Tello did not take the stand.

On Monday, Turner called Supak’s husband, a neighbor, two police officers and a paramedic to testify.

Laura Hipp’s e-mail address is

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