ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches man originally charged with driving while intoxicated now faces a stiffer penalty while his passenger in an Oct. 29 wreck is in a coma in a Tyler hospital.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Trooper Joseph Wood reported that he responded to a one-vehicle rollover on U.S. 59, north of Lufkin. When he arrived, paramedics were tending to Melanie Allen Leatherman, 38, of Lufkin, who had been ejected from the vehicle and was unconscious.
Wood interviewed Mitcheal Shane Starling, 44, who claimed he was not driving the vehicle. However, Wood said Starling also complained of a shoulder injury to his left shoulder, consistent with an injury from a seat belt on the driver's side.
After questioning, Starling admitted to driving the vehicle, the affidavit states. Because Wood suspected Starling was drunk, he transported him to the Angelina County Jail, where he took a breath test and turned in results of .156 and .160, above the legal limit of .08.
Starling was charged on that day with DWI, but that charge was dropped on Nov. 2.
Starling is now charged with intoxication assault, a third-degree felony, as Leatherman has not regained consciousness due to a severe brain injury. Starling is also charged with the misdemeanor charge of false report to peace officer.