Man gets 50-year sentence for 100 mph crash during chase that killed 2 cousins in Uber

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man accused of killing two women by causing a crash with an Uber vehicle while running from deputies in 2020 has been sentenced to several decades in prison.

Brian Tatum, 47, was found guilty last Thursday of the murders of Priscilla DeLeon and Diana Salazar. The Harris County District Attorney's Office said he was convicted after a weeklong trial. The jurors deliberated for only 39 minutes.

He was facing a sentence ranging from 25 years to life in prison based on his criminal history, but instead of letting jurors or a judge decide his punishment, Tatum agreed to 50 years in prison.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Crash splits rideshare car, 2 passengers killed

The victims were in the back of a rideshare vehicle that was split in half in the crash late Saturday.

Since he took the deal, Tatum cannot appeal and has to serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.

"This is a man with a long criminal history, and he finally did the horrible thing that we worry about when someone continually commits crimes," District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "These two young women, who were being responsible by using a rideshare service instead of driving, should have been safe riding home - they should still be alive."

According to the DA's office, Harris County sheriff's deputies tried to pull Tatum over for a traffic stop in northeast Houston around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2020. The driver fled from deputies and drove about two miles before he T-boned a Honda Accord being driven by an Uber driver.

Officials said Tatum was driving about 100 mph in a 35 mph zone when the force of the crash caused the Honda to split in half, killing both passengers. The Uber driver survived the impact.

SEE ALSO: Murder charges filed against chase suspect in crash that killed 2 rideshare passengers

DeLeon was a 25-year-old graduate of Texas A&M University, and her cousin, Salazar, was a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Houston.

Prosecutors said Tatum was born in Houston and later moved to California, where he had been convicted of several felonies, including evading arrest.

The DA's office said more than two dozen of DeLeon and Salazar's family members sat through the entire trial wearing buttons with a photo of the two victims.

After the verdict and plea agreement were read, the mothers of the two victims stood together and sobbed as family and friends tried to comfort them.

RELATED: Passengers killed in fatal Uber crash in NE Houston were cousins, family says

Diana Munoz Salazar and Priscilla Munoz DeLeon were considered best friends. Now, as the investigation continues, their family will soon be laying them to rest.