Sheriff's office says weak case in deputy death

June 4, 2008 9:49:46 PM PDT
The sheriff's department is saying it doesn't have a strong case against a man accused in an accident that killed a deputy. The Harris County Sheriff's Office is talking to the district attorney's office about the future of the charges against Jose Vieyra. He faces criminal negligent homicide. The sheriff's own accident reconstructionist tells both Vieyra and the deputy are to blame for the accident.

As the case against Jose Vieyra, charged with killing deputy Craig Miller in an accident, moves forward, we've learned what the sheriff's office own reconstructionist has concluded will not make him the state's star witness.

"There is a chance he could still be here today if he wasn't intoxicated and speeding at the time of the accident," said Deputy David Pearson of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Pearson shared his findings with us. Miller's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit, he was speeding, and not wearing his seat belt when his pickup collided with the box truck Vieyra was driving. Vieyra pulled out in front of him, but a sober person Pearson believes, could have controlled his destiny.

"Someone who was not impaired would have had sometime afforded to them to put their foot to the brake to slow down," Deputy Pearson told us. "And the resulting impact would have been at a lower speed than what he had which probably would have caused less severe injuries."

Pearson says what he has to say is the truth and it could help or hurt both sides of the case.

In fact our legal analyst says the district attorney's office should drop the charges against Vieyra. His attorney told me over the phone she doesn't think he should have ever been charged given what happened and what was learned after the fact. She says there was no negligence.

Deputy Pearson disagrees.

"He was negligent by continuing to enter the lane," he said.

But he adds this is one of those rare cases that is not clear cut. Prosecutors do not have a slam dunk.

"The speed [Miller] was travelling contributed and because he was intoxicated certainly contributed to what happened that night," he said. "Just as did the fact Vieyra pulled out of the driveway and turned into four lanes in his path."

The district attorney's office would not comment on the case because it is ongoing. Vieyra has a court setting Thursday. His attorney tells us the case will be presented to a grand jury in the next two weeks and because of what we've told you, she's confident he'll be no-billed.

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