Plea deal pulled in deadly hit-and-run case in Harris County
A trial date has been set and a plea bargain is now off the table for a man accused in a deadly hit and run. FOX 26’s Damali Keith reports from the Harris County Criminal court house to tell us why there’s no longer a deal.
HOUSTON – A trial date has been set, and a plea bargain is now taken off the table for a man accused in a fatal hit-and-run, but why?
The plea deal was offered by the Vehicular Crimes Division Chief Sean Teare in one of his final decisions before leaving the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and now the DA’s office is saying Teare wasn’t authorized to reach such an agreement.
“In six-plus years I’ve never had a single offer, plea bargain, or trial questioned by the administration. It’s not until I left that they did this,” says Teare.
In court documents, defense attorneys for Mansoor Abbasi call the decision by the District Attorney’s Office to revoke their client’s plea deal “political retribution against a former employee and potential political rival.”
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“My entire career has been about making sure the right thing is done in every case and part of that is communicating to the families,” Teare explains and it’s part of the issue with the agreement, whether the family, specifically the victim’s mother Kryshunna Harris was notified.
“Miss Harris has related to me she was not consulted by anyone prior to the offer of a pre-trial intervention,” says HCDAO Director of Victims Services Celeste Byrom. Teare says it’s not abnormal for victim’s loved ones to be notified after a deal is reached but before the deal is legally entered into.
Chief Prosecutors for the DA’s Office say revoking what’s called the “pre-trial intervention” for Abbasi, which would have led to dismissal and expungement, has nothing to do with politics. “Proper protocol was not followed. The District Attorney has to herself, Kim Ogg has to approve a matter like this, and she would not have approved it. In a matter where an individual kills another person in a traffic accident and then flees the scene. We take these matters seriously,” says First Assistant D.A. Chief of Courts David Mitcham.
“I in no way wanted to put Mrs. Harris through an incredibly public trial that in my opinion, and there’s no one who has more experience in this in the entire state of Texas, in my opinion, it is very unlikely a conviction comes from this case,” adds Teare.
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Abbasi is charged with Felony Failure to Stop and Render Aid. In December 2020 investigators say Abbasi ran over and killed 22-year-old Dontrae Broussard who was walking along Highway 6. A witness says Abbasi got out of his SUV, looked around, got back in the vehicle then drove away.
Broussard’s mother spoke with me through a victim’s advocate saying she wants Abbasi to serve significant prison time. “It’s her only child, and it is very important to Miss Harris that there’s justice in this case for the loss of her son,” Byrom adds.
Deadly hit-and-run driver plea deal revoked, going to trial
A fatal hit-and-run case is heading to trial and the defendant’s plea deal has now been revoked. FOX 26’s Damali Keith tells us why this happened.
According to court records Broussard had recently been diagnosed with mental illness and stepped in front of Abbasi’s car. The court documents go on to say the Medical Examiner’s Office initially ruled Broussard’s death an accident and later changed it to suicide after reviewing surveillance video.
“I think it’s a tragic circumstance for everybody involved. Certainly, he was an unwilling participant in the decedent’s suicide, and I hate that the decedent would be in such a state that that would be a choice that he made, and I regret great that his parents had to be here today to hear about it. This has been very difficult for him (Abbasi) as well. He hasn’t driven in a very long time. He had to shut down his business because he had such PTSD after this occurred, and the shock and trauma,” says Abbasi’s Attorney Lauren Byrne.
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“I am loathed to do anything in a public setting, that might reflect negatively on a victim of a crime because there was a crime committed. There’s no question. You are required to stay at the scene of a crash,” Teare explains, but he says that’s why he made the decision for a plea deal.
The DA’s Office says it’s more appropriate to let a jury decide on a resolution. The trial is set to begin on March 31, 2023.
One added note, CrimeStoppers of Houston Victims Advocate Andy Kahan says he plans to have someone look into whether a 2011 Texas bill for victims’ rights was violated, which says a family must be notified of a plea deal.
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