Grandma getaway driver runs over accomplice who fell out, police say

Jessica Willey Image
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Police have charged a woman with murder after a man was killed during a chase
Diwannah Thomas appears in court on a murder charge.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston police say a grandmother was the getaway driver who ran over and killed an accomplice during a high speed police chase after a burglary Tuesday morning.

Diawannah Corstera Thomas, 54, had her first court appearance Tuesday night. Thomas is also charged with aggravated assault against a public servant for allegedly hitting a police car with the officer inside.

Police say Thomas was behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck that waited outside as three men broke into a Sunny's Food Mart on Bauman Road just after midnight.

Authorities say the suspects used bolt cutters to cut open the lock of the store. Surveillance video from the scene shows them carry beer, T-shirts and smoke paraphernalia into the U-Haul. The suspects tried to use the same cutters to open the ATM but failed.

An off-duty officer at the scene witnessed the burglary and called officers. The truck took off.

"The chase was 25 miles and lasted 26 minutes," said a prosecutor in court.

During the chase, one suspect jumped out and was arrested. The prosecutor read how a second suspect, now victim or complainant, fell off as he clung to the passenger side mirror.

"He fell off and this caused the complainant to fall and become run over by the passenger side rear tires, resulting in the death of the complainant," she said.

Police believe Thomas was either drunk or high. She wiped away tears as she stood before judge.

The state requested no bond for the grandmother of seven. The public defender asked for $60,000 bond for the felony murder charge and $40,000 the second charge. The judge settled on $75,000 for each charge.

Thomas has a lengthy criminal history that includes robbery, auto theft and drug convictions. She is due back in court on Thursday.

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