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Shelton gets 120 days jail, probation

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The Ellis County Press

DALLAS - Former Hilltop Classics owner Jerry Wayne Shelton pled guilty to two counts of intoxication manslaughter on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Shelton was original scheduled to stand trial for the deaths of Hutchins residents Andrew and Veronica Ruben on Monday, Oct. 27 until he accepted the plea agreement.

Under the plea agreement Shelton, a Palmer resident, must spend 120 days in the Dallas County Jail and 10 years probation the maximum time allowed by law, Dallas Assistant District Attorney Alex Zocchi said.

'I think that's the classic power example of the press,' Shelton's attorney, Randy Taylor said referring to The Dallas Morning News columnist James Ragland who wrote a series of columns on the accident after Shelton was original no-billed by his first grand jury.

Taylor said if it were not for Ragland's columns the district attorney would not have reinvestigated the case after Shelton's first grand jury appearance.

Taylor said the prosecution's case was 'weaker than well water,' but he couldn't afford to take a chance on Shelton's life.

Taylor said Shelton never denied hitting the woman, but said he only hit one person not both of them.

Glass from a turn signal, different from Shelton's vehicle was found at the scene of the accident, Taylor said.

Zocchi said intoxication manslaughter was hard to prove because you have to prove the accident happened because the driver was intoxicated.

Zocchi said he spoke to the Ruben's family before offering the plea agreement to Shelton.

'Everybody felt it would be better (to accept a plea agreement),' Zocchi said.

'We wouldn't do something against their wishes.'

The Ruben's were killed walking on the northbound service road of Interstate 45 near the Yellow Rose Café on Sept. 16, 2001.

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