Tello pleads guilty to crash that injured officer, sentenced to - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Tello pleads guilty to crash that injured officer, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Jesse Tello (Source: KCBD) Jesse Tello (Source: KCBD)

The sentencing phase began Tuesday morning for 21-year-old Jesse Tello. Judge McClendon has sentenced him to 10 years in prison and will be eligible for parole after five years. 

Tello pleaded guilty on Friday to causing the crash that seriously injured Lubbock Police Officer Corey Owens. Police say Tello, who was 19-years-old at the time, had been drinking when he crashed into Owens's vehicle in May of 2015.

Owens was outside of his patrol vehicle at the time of the crash directing traffic at a flooded intersection.

According to court documents, Owens's right foot was crushed against the curb. It later had to be amputated.

An officer who responded to the accident took the stand Tuesday morning and said when he arrived on the scene, he saw Owens on the ground and injured. He said while Owens was conscious, he was not able to answer questions.

The officer said Tello was also there and appeared to be injured.

Officer William Trotter then took the stand and said Tello was taken to UMC following the crash. Trotter said he sat with Tello at the hospital where Tello consented to a blood test.

According to the state, Tello's blood test came back at 0.181, which is more than twice the legal limit.

According to a toxicology report presented by the defense, Tello tested negative for drugs.

Defense Attorney Frank Sellers said Tello was treated for a concussion and a sprained knee while at the hospital.

Sellers asked Officer Trotter if the symptoms of a concussion can appear similar to signs of intoxication. Trotter said sometimes they can.

Eric Thoen, an accident investigator with the Lubbock Police Department, took the stand and said the impact of the collision spun Owens's vehicle 180 degrees before it crushed Owens' foot.

Sellers asked if, during the investigation, Thoen learned if Owens was wearing a safety vest while directing traffic that evening.

Thoen said he believed they found the vest in the trunk of Owens' vehicle, which is where they believe Owens was standing when the crash happened.

Thoen said according to data gathered during the investigation, they were able to determine Tello was traveling 25 miles over the speed limit five seconds before he crashed into the patrol vehicle.

Sellers asked Thoen if during the investigation anyone checked to see if Tello's speedometer or windshield wipers were working at the time of the crash.

Thoen said no one checked.

Sellers said Tello's vehicle was not in good shape. Thoen agreed when Sellers asked if it appeared that all of the tires on Tello's vehicle were spare tires and the side view mirror was taped onto the vehicle.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Brummett asked Thoen if someone should be driving a car if the windshield wipers do not work.

Thoen said no.

Thoen said there were no indications that Owens was at fault during the incident.

According to Thoen, the Texas Tech Police Department captured the intersection at the time of the collision and used that video as part of their investigation.

Sellers said according to Thoen's report, he could tell by watching the video when Owens' activated his emergency lights and pulled into the intersection.

Sellers played that video in the courtroom for Thoen and asked him to point out the moment when Owens pulled into the intersection.

Thoen was unable to point out that moment in the video.

Thoen, who admitted the video is unclear, said he was able to view the video at his office multiple times and frame by frame.

Felicia Owens, Corey Owens' wife took the stand.

Felicia recalled the night the accident happened.

She said she woke up to two officers banging on her front door who told her Owens was in the hospital.

She said she arranged for someone to watch their children, 9-months-old and two-years-old at the time, and went immediately to the hospital to see her husband.

Felicia said doctors said they were going to try their best to save his leg, but she knew after looking at it that that wasn't going to happen.

She said she went from having help at home to feeling like a single mom because her husband couldn't help her with daily tasks anymore.

She said while things did improve once her husband received a prosthetic leg, adjusting to this new way of life has still been difficult.

The prosecution asked Felicia if the thought of her husband returning to duty worried her.

"Am I scared? Yeah,"  she said.

"The thought of having to raise two kids by myself is scary," she said

Felicia stepped off the stand and her husband, Corey Owens took the stand.

Owens, who has been a Lubbock police officer for five years, said he briefly remembers waking up in the middle of the roadway that night.

He said he remembers another officer kneeling beside him and asking questions, but doesn't remember what they were.

The next memory Owens has is being wheeled down a hospital hallway and the doctors telling him they were probably going to have to amputate his leg.

He said he asked the doctors to try to save it because he had two boys at home and he wanted to be able to run around with them.

He said his main focus was his children.

Owens said his right foot had to amputated.

Then, two days later they amputated more of his leg in order for it to better fit a prosthetic.

"I definitely had my bad days. I still have my bad days, but I try not to show it for my boys. They don't need to see me sulk around," Owens said.

Owens said there was never a doubt about returning to the police department if they would have him.

"I couldn't think of anything else I would rather do," Owens said.

Owens said he has been going through courses to demonstrate he is fit for patrol after the amputation.

"I've done everything they have asked me to do," he said.

Owens said he has not received the official word from the department that he can return to patrol, but if he does, he expects to return to the midnight shift, the shift he was working when the accident happened.

Owens said his children are now five-years-old and two-years-old.

He said they shouldn't have to worry about helping him with anything, but they do.

He said before the crash, he helped coach his oldest son's baseball team, something that changed after his surgeries.

He said he couldn't play catch on crutches.

Brummett asked Owens why he wanted to return to patrol.

"It's proving to myself that I can get back out there and do it, just keep doing the job that I've always like doing," he said.

Jesse Tello took the stand Tuesday afternoon. 

He has been in the Lubbock County Detention Center for the last 21 months.

Tello said he was raised by his grandparents since he was a newborn. 

Tello said he got his first job at the age of 11 or 12.

When he turned 17-years-old, he and his longtime girlfriend had a child.

Tello said he dropped out of high school to take on two jobs to support his family. 

A few of Tello's former employers took the stand and described him as reliable, polite, and dedicated. 

The director of re-entry programs at the Lubbock County Detention Center said Tello was a leader in his classes. 

While on the stand, Tello looked at Officer Owens and his family and friends in the courtroom and said, "I'm sorry for everything I did. If I could take back everything and put it on myself I would." 

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