El Paso businessman Billy Abraham sentenced to 180 days in jail after DWI conviction

Abraham had faced intoxication manslaughter charge

Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
POSTED: 10:04 AM MDT Jul 26, 2013    UPDATED: 09:38 PM MST Jan 15, 2014 
EL PASO, Texas -

Jurors found El Paso businessman Billy Abraham not guilty of intoxication manslaughter after deliberating for more than five hours. Instead, jurors determined he was guilty of a lesser charge: driving while intoxicated.

It took jurors only a few minutes to head back to their chambers and deliberate on a sentence. Abraham is looking at 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

This isn’t the last time Abraham will see a courtroom, though. Abraham is expected to face a second charge that wasn’t considered this week. Abraham will be tried for failure to stop and render aid.

384th District Court Judge Patrick Garcia told Abraham he’d like to see him in court soon. Abraham’s high-powered defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, requested more time, stating that media coverage of this trial could hurt Abraham’s future defense.

“For you and your family, this has to be resolved, Billy,” said Garcia.

Abraham speaking quietly, almost inaudible to those in the audience, replied solemnly, “Yes, I know.”

It took more than three years to get to this point. Abraham struck Jay Grady in July 2010. Grady, a homeless man who was jaywalking when he was hit, died.

Abraham’s defense team spent the past week putting together a complicated defense. DeGuerin spent days to articulate that the prosecution never met the burden of proof. He also put together evidence that claimed Abraham could not have seen Grady whether he was drunk or not. They also used a doctor as an expert witness to say that Grady wanted to commit suicide.

Denise Butterworth, the prosecutor, argued that Abraham’s defense contorted and manufactured a defense. She told jurors to rely on cold hard facts from eyewitnesses. Her approach didn’t work.

After the trial, Butterworth declined an interview stating she needed time to cool off. She told ABC-7 that she couldn’t speak about her feelings of what had just unfolded inside the courtroom.

Inside the courtroom, emotions boiled over multiple times. DeGuerin constantly made objections during Butterworth’s closing arguments. The unofficial tally by ABC-7 reporter Matthew Smith was 14. He objected an additional three times during the sentencing phase.

At one point Butterworth grew angry and shouted, “I would ask for a legal objection,” emphasizing the word legal.

Abraham was not remanded into El Paso Sheriff’s Office custody after the trial. He is out on a $1,000 bond. He will be required to come back to court on Monday to sign up for a personal recognizance bond, that bond is tied to the $2,000 fine levied against him. He has 30 days to file an appeal to the sentence. His lawyers gave indication that he will do so.

As for Grady, his family was not at the trial. According to testimony in court, he had a common-law wife and three children. A letter from Grady’s wife was read in court during day four. The letter stated that Grady had problems with drug and alcohol abuse, and that he had been trying to get himself together for years.