Benjamin Lee Powers was placed on 10 years “deferred adjudication” probation Friday by 115th District Court Judge Lauren Parish, according to a statement released Monday by Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd's office.
Powers, 19 at the time of the accident, was originally charged with felony criminally negligent homicide in the death of Caderrius Deshaw Green, of Gilmer. But the charge was upgraded to mans-
laughter “based on evidence the investigation showed,” Byrd said at the time Powers was indicted on the manslaughter charge several months ago.
“Deferred adjudication” means no final conviction appears on Powers' record if he successfully completes probation. However, when such probation is revoked, the defendant can be sentenced to the maximum term for the offense, which is 20 years in prison for manslaughter.
In that event, Powers would have to serve 10 years before becoming eligible for parole, Byrd said.
The indictment charged Powers was “passing a motor vehicle in a no-passing zone on the crest of a hill” and exceeding the speed limit, causing the pickup to leave the roadway, Byrd said.
Byrd said Monday that Powers had been driving slow, and he became enraged when another vehicle safely and legally passed him. The accident happened after Powers accelerated and tried to pass that vehicle, Byrd said.
Neither drugs nor alcohol was involved in the incident, which basically involved a “young man in a violent rage driving recklessly,” Byrd said and Green's family asked Powers be given a long-term probation rather than prison time.
Under terms of probation, Powers, who was represented by Gilmer attorney Tim Cone, must perform 400 hours of community service, pay a $1,000 fine, take “anger management,” and continue seeing a psychiatrist.