Court grants new punishment hearing for man sentenced in wreck that killed Tyler woman

Updated: Jun. 25, 2019 at 11:30 AM CDT
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TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - An East Texas man who is serving time for a wreck that killed a Tyler woman has been granted a new punishment hearing.

Last week, an appeals court reversed a trial court’s punishment in the case of James Fulton.

Fulton, 43, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in December 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 2016 wreck that killed Haile Beasley, 20.

A Tyler Police Department official said at the time of the crash that Beasley was driving eastbound on Grande Boulevard, when Fulton drove into oncoming traffic, striking her car head-on. Though police later determined Fulton was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, he did admit to drinking beforehand.

James Fulton in Court Thursday morning
James Fulton in Court Thursday morning

Fulton’s appeal argues three issues during his trial - insufficient evidence, ineffective counsel and juror bias.

The court of appeals overruled the first and third arguments and sustained the second argument of ineffective counsel.

During the punishment phase of Fulton’s trial Kristin Woodard, a waitress at the Cascades Country Club, testified that Fulton came in about a month after the crash and paid for drinks on his credit card. Prosecutors and Fulton’s attorney knew there was no record of this but the court of appeals says the defense failed to impeach Woodard’s testimony.

Killed in 2016 wreck.
Killed in 2016 wreck.

“For the reasons stated above, we overrule Appellant’s first and third issues, and sustain his second issue. Having sustained his second issue, we reverse the trial court’s judgment pertaining to punishment, and remand the case to the trial court for a new punishment trial,” the court wrote in their judgment.

The date of Fulton’s new punishment trial has not yet been released.


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