Rusk man sentenced to 10 years probation, 120 days in jail as a condition, after intoxicated manslaughter conviction

Published on Thursday, 7 December 2017 17:52 - Written by LOUANNA CAMPBELL,

A 29-year-old Rusk man was convicted and sentenced to 10 years probation for intoxicated manslaughter on Wednesday in a Smith County court.

The court also imposed 120 days of confinement in the Smith County Jail as a condition of his probation. 

According to Ronnie Dale Rodgers Jr.'s defense attorney, eight of the 12 jurors did not want to impose any sentence, but had to sentence him because he opted for a slow plea from the jury, meaning they would assess his punishment. 

Rodgers was found to be responsible for the death of 30-year-old James Robert Wilson, the passenger in his pickup that he crashed May 29, 2016, on Old Jacksonville Highway and County Road 133. 

A Texas Department of Transportation crash report said Rodgers was southbound on Old Jacksonville Highway about 2:20 a.m. when he drove off the right side of the road in a left curve and into the ditch. 

The report said Rodgers drove down the ditch through a culvert before crossing over County Road 133.

Rodgers' pickup hit some trees before striking a larger tree that caused the vehicle to spin to the left. The pickup stopped after it became lodged between two large trees. 

Rodgers' blood alcohol content was almost twice the legal limit, according to the crash report. Wilson was taken to East Texas Medical Center where he died about two hours after the crash.


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