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Grandfather sentenced for wreck that killed 2 year old grandson

Randell Jay Phillips (Source: Upshur County Jail) Randell Jay Phillips (Source: Upshur County Jail)
UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A grandfather, charged with murder, has been sentenced to several years in prison.

Randell Jay Phillips, 42, of Big Sandy was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the murder of  his 2-year-old grandson, who died in a car wreck.

 On October 29, 2016, at approximately 9:45 p.m. on rural FM Road 49 in Western Upshur County, Phillips drove his 2006 Chevrolet Avalanche 256 feet off the roadway into a tree.  His two-year-old grandson, Skylar Rabourn, was killed as a result. Phillips was reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the crash and was highly intoxicated.  Blood evidence showed that even 31/2 hours after the crash his blood alcohol level was still two times the legal limit.  Skylar was trapped under the front dash in the passenger floorboard and died at the scene.

Related: 2-year-old killed in Upshur County crash

According to the Upshur County District Attorney, Phillips would normally have been charged with intoxication manslaughter, which carries a maximums sentence of 20 years in prison. However, the defendant had two prior driving while intoxicated convictions from Gregg County. The D.A. decided to up the charge to murder. 

"It is a rare but unique aspect of Texas Law where if a Defendant is in the commission of a felony (in this case felony driving while intoxicated) and they commit an act clearly dangerous to human life and that causes the death of another individual they may be charged with murder," said  Upshur County Criminal District Attorney Billy Byrd.

Byrd said back in March of 2017 when Phillips was indicted that Phillips had a car seat in the back of the vehicle but instead placed his grandson in the front seat of the vehicle, unrestrained. 

Related: Grandfather indicted for murder in wreck that killed 2-year-old grandson

Phillips must serve at least 25 years in prison day for day before he's eligible for parole.  The maximum sentence would have been 30 years day for day.  Phillips waived his right to appeal. The case was set for jury trial to begin Friday morning.

"This sentence ensures the very strong likelihood that the defendant will never leave prison alive," says Byrd.

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