BELTON — A woman who ran over and killed a tow truck driver May 11, 2017, was sentenced Tuesday to 5 years deferred adjudication probation — with some slight modifications, her judge said.
Scott Bowles was killed while loading a disabled vehicle onto the back of his tow truck off Interstate 14 in Harker Heights.
Sybil Warrick from Fort Smith, Ark., might be able to serve her probation in her home state if emergency approval is granted through the Interstate Compact. Until approval is granted, Warrick can’t leave Bell County.
Warrick can’t drive at all while on probation unless a doctor certifies she is able to drive, Bell County 264th District Court Judge Paul LePak said.
She could have been sentenced to probation or state jail for up to 2 years, but it could have been as little as 180 days, according to the Texas Penal Code.
LePak waived a curfew for Warrick and reduced her community service from 300 hours to 100 hours. Warrick must participate in a violence intervention program, take all medications as prescribed by a physician, repay all court costs and attorney fees, have psychological screening and counseling if prescribed, undergo substance abuse testing and complete several other programs. She must also pay about $580 in restitution.
Warrick waited outside the courtroom in a wheelchair as she did for a Jan. 11hearing. When it was time, she was pushed into the courtroom by her husband and was told to sit at the defense table.
Bowles’ wife, Stephanie, their son Sean, family members and supportive friends walked into the room, most of them wearing “Tow Lives Matter” T-shirts.
The prosecution, led by Stephanie Newell, presented no evidence before sentencing.
Anthony Smith was Warrick’s attorney, and he asked LePak to sentence Warrick to deferred adjudication probation.
Smith repeatedly referred to Bowles’ death as an accident and said Arkansas didn’t have a Move Over or Slow Down law. He claimed Warrick didn’t know about the law, so she shouldn’t be held as responsible.
Smith talked about Warrick’s medical condition and said she was in the hospital at least once a week while she waits for a liver transplant. Smith objected to the drug or alcohol testing, the curfew and community service based on her medical condition. He also asked for her probation to be moved to Arkansas because being in Texas was a hardship for Warrick and her family.
Newell pointed out Arkansas’ law was very similar to that of Texas and asked LePak to sentence Warrick to no less than 5 years probation — but not deferred probation. She brought up the Interstate Compact, explained it to LePak and Smith and asked that Warrick be required to serve her probation in Bell County.
Smith said putting Warrick in jail would kill her and she would die if she didn’t go back to Arkansas.
LePak stated the verdict he’d made and authorized Warrick’s return to Arkansas if it was approved.
Warrick waived her right to appeal.
Victim’s family speaks out
Stephanie Bowles walked to the podium to address Warrick — the first time she’d ever spoken to her. Sean, age 10, leaned on his mother.
Stephanie described Scott Bowles as a man many people knew, honored and respected. She talked about the life they’d had together that was terminated because of Warrick. She said Sean was so traumatized by his father’s death that he still goes to counseling every week.
“I know for a fact every single light was on. You had plenty of time to slow down and move over,” she told Warrick. “It’s no excuse to say you’re from another state. What was so important you took your eyes off the road?”
Stephanie vividly described the awful injuries her husband suffered — injuries that caused him to bleed out and die.
One of Stephanie’s closing statements was very poignant.
“I forgive you — for my salvation,” she said.
After the hearing, Stephanie said didn’t like the fact that Warrick won’t have Scott’s death on her record if she successfully completes her probation, but she and Sean are both relieved the trial ordeal is over and they can get on with their lives.
She anticipated Warrick would get probation, but she’s not happy with it and the laws in place, Stephanie said. She will fight to get the laws changed so the next person hit on the side of the road won’t have to go through this.
“I was able to tell her (Warrick) exactly how I felt,” Stephanie said. “She sat there with no emotion, which angered me even more. …. I do not believe she thinks this was an event she could have helped. I feel that she has no remorse for the life that she took,” she said.
She wants Warrick to vividly remember what happened when her vehicle hit Scott.
“I want her to see his face every time she lays her head down and closes her eyes — what his face looked like when his face hit her windshield and his body was battered by her vehicle. I want her to feel that pain. We went through it every day,” Stephanie said.