Repeat drunk driver wants probation

RICHMOND, TX [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It was a horrific head-on collision that left a family emotionally devastated. Now they're concerned this repeat offender will be back on the streets.

The accident happened after 11pm on December 3, 2007. James Warren was southbound on his motorcycle on Highway 36 toward Needville when he was hit head on by a car going north in the southbound lane. The car was driven by a then 28-year-old Mathew Barrera -- a man previously convicted twice of DWI.

The accident destroyed Warren's bike. The impact shattered his body, too. He died nearly immediately on the side of the road.

Investigators found an open case of beer on the floor board of Barrera's car. He refused at the time to take a field sobriety test and he refused to voluntarily give blood for testing, so authorities forcibly took it from him. Investigators now say he was then legally drunk.

Prosecutor Mike Elliott said, "(It was) .27. That's three times over the legal limit. I don't know what else you can say other than that's just horrible."

Barrera didn't take his chances with a jury trial and instead has pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter. But he is asking a jury not to send him to prison With Barrera's two prior DWI convictions, Warren's family is troubled by his request for probation.

Jesse Warren, the victim's brother, wondered, "How could he sit up there and face the court and ask for a slap on the wrist?"

Barrera's attorney would not comment on camera. He says he will put on a dozen witnesses who will say that his client is a changed man since this wreck. The DA says Barrera deserves nothing less than the maximum allowed by law, 20 years in state prison.

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