Sentencing phase continues in Jessica Vass’ trial

Sentencing begins for the Vass trial.

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A Lindale woman was in court Tuesday for the sentencing phase of her trial.

36-year-old Jessica Vass is charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle.

She is responsible for the deaths of two people killed in a fatal wreck on Toll 49 in April 2017. On Monday, Vass pleaded guilty to her role in the deaths of 62-year-old Gary McCrary and 56-year-old Annette Burkhart.

“Because she was intoxicated [she] drove off and slammed into the back of Gary’s truck going about 70 miles per hour," the prosecuting attorney Jeff Bullock said. "This truck, remember I told you Gary was killed by his own vehicle, careened through these two folks and killed them both.”

According to a crash investigation, the two victims were on the side of the road as McCrary helped Burkhart change her tire. The state presented pictures from the scene of the crash that showed severe damage to McCrary’s vehicle.

Records show that Vass had a blood-alcohol level of almost twice the state’s legal limit.

“It was 0.148 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood," DPS forensic scientist Megan Holladay said.

As the sentencing phase for Vass' trial continued, friends and family from both victims provided testimony.

“Gary was, I guess you’d say, the go-to guy. If any time somebody needed help or something they’d say call Gary," McCrary’s brother Johnny McCrary said.

“She was truly the best person you will ever meet, she was my whole entire world," Burkhart’s daughter Jennifer Le said. "There is a huge hole in my heart that will never be filled.”

In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The State of Texas punishes second degree felony convictions with 2-20 year prison sentences, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Related stories:

Driver pleads guilty to intoxication manslaughter after deadly Toll 49 wreck

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