The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

February 15, 2014

Gray, 19, found guilty of manslaughter in trial

PALESTINE —

After almost two hours of deliberations, a six-man, six-woman jury found 19-year-old Haden Blaine Gray guilty of manslaughter Friday morning for the death of a 17-year-old Elkhart girl in a one-vehicle car crash in November 2012.

Gray was accused of driving intoxicated and causing the death of Cheyenne Franklin, a junior at Elkhart High School, in a one-vehicle wreck which occurred at about 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.

The jury began hearing arguments from the state on Tuesday afternoon, with the state and defense both resting their cases at about 3 p.m. on Thursday.

To begin Friday, the formal charge was read by presiding 87th District Court Judge Deborah Oakes Evans, followed by the presentation of closing arguments from First Assistant District Attorney Stanley Sokolowski, representing the state, and attorney Dan Scarbrough for the defense.

The jury was given three verdict options — to find Gray guilty or not guilty of intoxication manslaughter, guilty or not guilty of manslaughter or guilty or not guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

The jury began deliberations at about 10:30 a.m. and concluded at about 12:30 p.m. Friday, when they announced the verdict to the court.

In closing arguments, Sokolowski remind the jury that they were the “exclusive judges of the facts in the case,” and that is was their job to consider only the evidence admitted by the judge and presented in testimony.

“You heard from Eduardo Padilla, the lab technician from the DPS lab, that Gray's blood showed at BAC (blood-alcohol content) of .077 about an hour after the accident,” Sokolowski said. “Further evidence of his intoxication was shown in his poor decision making — his decision to hide from the cops (prior to the wreck).

“We know that they hid from the cops, that they threw beer from the vehicle, that Gray failed to brake,” he added. “This isn't an accident. An accident implies there is nothing one can do to prevent it. This is a wreck.”

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