New sentencing trial scheduled for man convicted in crash that killed Haile Beasley

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A San Antonio man convicted in a head-on collision on an infamous road in Tyler that killed 21-year-old Haile Beasley in 2016 will now have a new sentencing trial scheduled for later this year.

46-year-old James Fulton was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for the wreck on Grande Boulevard back in 2017. After a jury deliberated his possible sentence for several hours, they ultimately sentenced him to the maximum of 10 years in prison.

Two years later, an appeals court ruled that Fulton received ineffective counsel when his lawyers chose not to present evidence that would have contradicted the testimony of a local waitress. They ordered that the conviction would stay in place, but that Fulton would receive a new sentencing trial.

Fulton has been out on bond since August 2019. His new sentencing trial in the 241st District Court is now set to begin on Dec. 6. Prosecutor Heath Chamness and defense attorney John Hodges agreed that the new trial would likely take three to four days.

In an interview with KETK News in 2019, Beasley’s family talked about the pain that was still with them.

“He just gets to walk out and go back to his family, and he gets to travel to see his kids play baseball or football or whatever, and he gets to live life and I get to go to the cemetery and visit my child.”

Jennifer Whittmore, Haile Beasley’s mother

Fulton and Beasley’s cars collided head-on, killing Beasley but leaving Fulton uninjured. The wreck happened on a sharp curve between Hollytree Drive and Old Jacksonville Highway.

At the crash site, police did not give Fulton a breathalyzer after he refused, but did administer several sobriety tests. He was allowed to leave the scene when it was determined he was not intoxicated.

It was found that Fulton did drink three to four beers earlier that evening. Fulton also said he was briefly distracted by a deer on the side of the road and was slightly speeding.

Beasley’s mother, Jennifer Whittmore, stressed her worry that people think there has to be proof that Fulton was drunk to make him guilty. She says he was charged with criminally negligent homicide, not driving while intoxicated. She tells us she believes the proof of his guilt centers on his negligence that night while driving, which is what he was ultimately charged with.

“Nothing will bring her back, and nothing does, ever and I’m fully aware, but having the punishment fit what he did, does bring a lot of comfort,” said Whittmore.

At his original trial, his lawyers argued that none of his actions crossed the threshold of being “grossly negligent.” The jury convicted him anyway.

Three weeks ago, the Tyler City Council agreed to fund a near-$100,000 contract to study the infamous curve in the road that has been the site of so many accidents.

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