GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - A drunk driver involved in a three-vehicle crash that left a 56-year-old woman dead has been found guilty of vehicular homicide.
The trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon in Gonzales. Ashton Claiborne, 30, was charged with second offense DWI, vehicular homicide and vehicular injuring.
Carolyn Brouillette was killed in the crash that happened on LA 73 (Old Jefferson Highway) in Prairieville on Sept. 28, 2012.
A jury of three men and three women deliberated for about two hours before handing down the verdict. At one point they asked the judge to clarify the definitions of vehicular homicide and the lesser charge of negligent homicide.
"I think they were trying to be thorough," said District Attorney Ricky Babin. "We were confident in our case from the beginning, and it was just a tragic case. You know the facts of it. It's final closure for the family."
Brouillette's husband, two sons and other family members were in the courtroom throughout the trial.
"We're very pleased with the outcome of the verdict. Ricky Babin and his staff, they did a terrific job putting the case together," nephew Joshua Sparacino said. "We'd like to thank Mike Edmonson with the State Troopers and all of the troopers involved in the case."
Louisiana State Police said Claiborne tried to pass Brouillette in a no-passing zone and collided head-on with a cement truck. Troopers said the impact caused the cement truck to spin and it hit Brouillette's vehicle. She was taken to the hospital, where she later died.
Investigators stated a toxicology report showed Claiborne's blood alcohol level was more than the legal limit at the time of the crash. Documents indicated he was ticketed for careless operation and driving with a suspended license following a crash in June 2012. His previous record also included DWI and speeding.
"I can't express to you how overjoyed we are with the outcome, and to know that the roads will be safer again with one less drunk driver out there," Sparacino said. "You never really get over grieving a loved one. This brings us a little comfort."
Defense attorney Stephen Sterling, III said his client accepts the jury's verdict.
"These are tough cases. We accept the decision and we put up a good fight, and we thought we filed all the appropriate motions and the judge was very fair. The DA did a wonderful job presenting the case," Sterling said.
Claiborne will be sentenced June 9th. He faces anywhere from 5 to 15 years in prison.