Man accused of hitting woman while driving drunk could be released on bond

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- James Hutchins is in the Harris County Jail on a $50,000 bond. His next court appearance is a month away.

But the family of the woman he's accused of severely injuring while he was allegedly driving drunk is afraid about his possible release.

Kelley Schoppe has a long road ahead of her. She has some use of her arms and her legs. She can walk with help. Schoppe is recovering slowly from a September collision that nearly killed her.

"My daughter-in-law is handicapped," said Schoppe's mother-in-law, Terri Conner. "She didn't do anything wrong. She was delivering cookies."

Hutchins is accused of being intoxicated when he hit Schoppe. He was on probation for a drug charge at the time. Now, with a lowered bond, he'll likely be released while awaiting trial.

"I just can't see why he can be free and she's going to be affected and my grandkids for the rest of their lives," said Conner.

In La Porte, where the collision occurred in September, there is still evidence of it outside of Kim Womack's house. She remembers seeing and hearing it while she was on her porch.

Womack has reminders of it on her phone.

"The explosion," said Womack. "When it hit, you could probably hear it two miles away. That's how hard it hit. It was loud. Very loud."

The district attorney's office told Eyewitness News the bail and conditions of release are the judge's call.

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"This was just an accident," said Hutchins' defense attorney Mark Thiessen. "It was a horrible and tragic accident. It wasn't a crime."

Thiessen said his bond has conditions.

"If he wants to get out, he has to have a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew and no driving," said Thiessen. "And he'll be electronic monitored with random drug and alcohol testing. This is a nightmare of a case for everybody involved. And I think it's important we remember he's 100 percent innocent unless proven guilty by a jury."

While Hutchins likely can't be found guilty of violating his probation unless found guilty in this case, Conner worries that Hutchins won't abide by any conditions the judge orders since she believes he didn't previously.

"My concerns are he's going to get out and do this to someone else except they might not be as lucky as Kelley was," she said.

Eyewitness News reached out to the judge's office in the case. He is out of the office until Monday, June 18.

Hutchins' next court appearance is July 12. He could bond out at any time.
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