Mineral Wells Area News

Palo Pinto County Habitual Offender Gets Life for Felony DWI

Palo Pinto County Habitual Offender Gets Life for Felony DWI
October 07
13:27 2023

Press Release from Palo Pinto County District Attorney

On October 2, 2023, a 58 year old Mineral Wells resident chose to take his indicted charge of Driving While Intoxicated-3rd or More to jury trial in the 29th District Court of Palo Pinto County.  A jury was selected on Monday, and on Tuesday the District Attorney’s Office began presenting evidence to prove the allegations in the indictment-that Douglas Edward Burns on or about November 9, 2021, in Palo Pinto County, Texas operated a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated.  

Officer William Starr testified that he was working the night shift for Mineral Wells Police Department on November 9, 2021. While on routine patrol on the southeast side of Mineral Wells, he observed an SUV make a right turn on a public street without the driver using the vehicle’s turn signal. Officer Starr made a traffic stop on the SUV and determined that Mr. Burns was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle.

Starr testified that he immediately detected the strong odor of alcohol coming from Burns, along with other indicators of recent alcohol use, and so began a DWI investigation. Officer Judd Smith arrived on scene to back up Officer Starr and both officers testified they observed numerous signs of intoxication as Burns performed standardized field sobriety tests. The decision was made to arrest Burns for DWI. Starr applied for and received a search warrant to obtain a sample of Burns’ blood after Burns refused to provide a sample voluntarily. Officer Christy Streun transported Burns to PPGH where the blood sample was drawn pursuant to the search warrant.

Palo Pinto County District Attorney Kriste Burnett

DPS lab analysis of the blood sample showed that Burns’ blood alcohol concentration was 0.157, just shy of twice the legal definition of intoxication by alcohol which is 0.08.

District Attorney Kriste Burnett also presented evidence that Douglas Burns had been convicted twice before of misdemeanor DWI offenses in 2002 and 2003, which bumped this offense up to a third degree felony. After hearing all of the evidence presented at the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, the jury deliberated and found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of Driving While Intoxicated-3rd or More.


The defendant elected to have the jury assess punishment in his trial, so when the guilty verdict was returned the trial proceeded to the punishment phase. The defendant pled true to the felony enhancement paragraphs of his indictment, which alleged that he had previously been convicted of sequential felonies. This meant that the jury would be considering the range of punishment set out under Texas law for a habitual felony offender- not less than 25 years or more than 99 years or life in prison.

The evidence introduced by the district attorney’s office in the punishment phase of trial showed that the defendant had first been convicted of and sent to prison for the felony offenses of Burglary of a Habitation and Burglary of a Vehicle in 1989. He was sentenced in the 29th District Court of Palo Pinto County to 8 years in prison for each of those offenses and those sentences ran concurrently. Then in 1991 Burns was convicted by a jury of three separate felony offense of Delivery of a Controlled Substance. Burns elected the jury in those cases to assess his punishment as well. He was sentenced in those cases to one 99 year sentence and two 45 year sentences, which all ran concurrent.

So the evidence showed that this defendant was on parole for those convictions when he committed each of his DWI offenses, including the one for which he stood trial this week. Burnett said that once the jury heard all of that evidence, they deliberated for more than an hour before returning a sentence of Life in prison.

“The jury recognized that Mr. Burns had not been deterred by his previous 99 year and 45 year prison sentences and subsequent parole supervision, so they determined that a lesser sentence would not be an appropriate punishment,” said District Attorney Kriste Burns.

“They also wanted to send out a message that if you continue to commit and be convicted of felony offenses in Palo Pinto County, that you will suffer the full consequences of your decisions,” said Burns.

“The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the members of the jury for their hard work and deliberations on this case. We also want to thank the officers of the Mineral Wells Police Department who did such a good job investigating this case and doing their part to keep us all safe on the streets of Mineral Wells.”

District Attorney Kriste Burnett

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