Vehicular Homicide Convictions Ordered to Run Concurrently By Court of Criminal Appeals.

Vehicular Homicide Convictions Ordered to Run Concurrently By Court of Criminal Appeals.

Michael W. Kemp, was convicted by a Smith County Criminal Court jury of three counts of reckless vehicular homicide and three counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The Court of Criminal Appeals concludes that the trial court erroneously sentenced the defendant to consecutive sentences.


The trial court made the following findings to support consecutive sentences. The defendant was involved in a chase that led to a collision in the middle of downtown Carthage and then ultimately led to a major collision resulting in the victims’ deaths showed that the defendant’s behavior indicated little or no regard for human life and no hesitation about committing a crime in which the risk to human life was high.  The court found that the defendant  took the  law into his  own hands  and committed this series  of events, indicating that consecutive  sentencing was  necessary to protect the public from the defendant.


In reversing the trial court, the Court of Criminal Appeals states that:
the defendant’s conduct certainly led to devastating results – the deaths of three individuals.  However, there is simply no support in the record for a finding that consecutive sentences were necessary to protect the public from further criminal acts of the defendant. 
Here, the Court found that Kemp is a forty-seven-year-old man with no prior criminal record. Witnesses testified that Kemp was remorseful for the loss of the victims’ lives, and numerous letters were submitted informing the court of the Kemp’s highly-regarded character. Although the incident was clearly tragic, the Court wrote, the crime was not committed in an extraordinarily wanton or violent manner nor did it appear that he would break the law again.
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