Colden Poncho listens in Judge David Wilson's Court as the widow of Charles Guzzi speaks from the witness stand.
Punishment Handed Down in Fatal Accident/DWI, LIVINGSTON, March 24, 2011 - After pleading guilty to intoxication manslaughter, 20 year old Colden Hawk Poncho, of the Alabama Coushatta Reservation was sentenced by a Polk County Jury to 180 days behind bars, a $10,000 fine and 10 years probation for the July 19, 2009 accident that occurred in East Polk County. After a night of drinking with friends nearly 2 years ago, Poncho was on his way to his grandmother's house driving west-bound on US-190 East. During the early morning drive, Poncho's white 1999 Ford Explorer veered to the left and collided with a Gold 2000 Nissan Pathfinder driven by 83 year old Charles Vincent Guzzi. Guzzi was killed in the collision. A blood/alcohol content (bac) of .08 is legally intoxicated, at the time of the accident, Poncho's bac was .31. The events of that morning changed Poncho's life. Now coming full circle with his crime and the consquences of his own poor decisons, Poncho sees with crystal clarity the effects and how it has changed peoples' lives for the worse.
The purpose of the court hearing in Senior District Judge David Wilson's Court was to determine the punishment for Poncho. Poncho heard with his own ears from the relatives of the man that was killed due to his reckless behavior. "My whole life has changed" said Charles Guzzi's widow Margie, "I've been a nervous wreck every since, " she said. Guzzi said she sold her house and moved to Nacogdoches because the house she had owned with her husband was too big and it was just more than she could handle alone.
Throughout the entire proceeding, Poncho held his head downward and had a look of shame and remorse. Many times during the proceeding he would cry, especially when his parents took the witness stand to plead for him to get probation rather than prison time. Assistant District Attorney,Beverly Armstrong grilled Poncho and drove home the point about responsibility for one's own descisions and the consquences of those decisons. Poncho heard from Charles Guzzi's daughter, Jana Dundas who stated "We were very close" she said of her dad. "He loved to be involved with his grandchildren", she said. She continued, "There's a lot that my dad didn't get to find out". "He would've been so proud of his grandchildren, it's been hard". Dundas explained that her dad was raising one of his grandkids and that responsibility has now fallen on her shoulders (the child belonged to Dundas' sister who had special needs).
Colden Poncho speaks from the witness stand and faces the court and Assistant District Attorney, Beverly Armstrong.
Poncho had a good amount of support as family and friends from the Alabama Coushatta Reservation sat on one side of the court room. But the support from his community couldn't ease his pain and shame as he listened as his father, Clint, who took the witness stand. "I love my son" he said. "He can't sleep at night, he cries every morning" the elder Poncho said. Clint Poncho said that he knew his son was drinking and that he raised his son right. He said that he raised his kids in church. All the while Clint Poncho was talking, his son Colden was quietly crying. When Poncho's mother took the stand she said that she also tried to get her son to stop drinking, "...but after awhile, the yelling and talking doesn't work anymore". Colden's mother said that he told her "I wish that it happened to me and not to him" she further stated that since the accident, Colden doesn't go anywhere.
Poncho's Attorney, Tom Brown finally called Colden to the witness stand. Brown asked Colden that, if given probation (rather than prison time), what he would to change and become a better person. Poncho stated, "I just want a chance to do better in life". "I would go back to school and learn air conditioning and heating and become a productive citizen". "I would earn money". The whole time Poncho was on the stand he was crying and his voice shaking. "I was doing things that I shouldn't have been doing after I graduated from Big Sandy". Assistant District Attorney, Beverly Armstrong asked him how he got his beer (since was and still is under age). Poncho stated that his friends would get him beer. He went on to say that he would drink with friends every weekend. When Brown asked Poncho if there's anything that he would like to say to the family of Charles Guzzi Poncho said "I'm sorry for what I did to your family", "I hope that you can forgive me some day" he cried.
During impact statements the surviving family members of Charles Guzzi didn't attack Poncho, but stated that they have forgiven him. When all was said and done, the family of Guzzi hugged the family of Colden Poncho. Whatever the case, life's not easy for Colden Poncho since that night that he was drinking with friends and the accident in the early morning hours of July 19, 2009. 180 days in the county jail will be a tough road to hoe, a $10,000 fine and 10 long years of probation is no cake walk. With the terms of probation which are very strict which includes no drinking, regular visits with his probation officer (including surprise visits at his residence), monthly dues, and limited travel, Colden Poncho will get a chance to do better in life and there will be consequences for his decisions, hopefully good decisions.
(Original Story Below)
Livingston Fire Department Heavy Rescue Unit
Fatal Accident in East Polk County, Alcohol Suspected, LIVINGSTON, July 19, 2009 - According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, just minutes before 6 am a fatal accident occurred on US-190 East near the Alabama Coushatta Reservation. The accident occurred near 190 and Bear Creek Road when a gold 2000 Nissan Pathfinder driven by Charles Vincent Guzzi, 83, of Trinity was east-bound on 190 and a west-bound white 1999 Ford Explorer driven by Colden Hawk Poncho, 18, of Livingston, crossed over the center line into the east-bound side. A glancing head-on collision occurred that spun Guzzi's vehicle around. Guzzi's vehicle came to rest on the shoulder of the east-bound side of 190 facing the west while Poncho's vehicle came to rest in the middle of 190 also facing west. Americare Ambulance Service was dispatched to the scene along with several Polk County Sheriff's Deputies and DPS Troopers Brent Murray, Nita Bowen, and David Morris. Also dispatched was the Alabama Coushatta Volunteer Fire Department and Livingston Volunteer Fire Department Heavy Rescue Unit. Poncho was transported to Livingston Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Guzzi wasn't so fortunate and was killed on impact. Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Larry Whitworth pronounced Guzzi dead at the scene. Both the east and west bound lanes of 190 were blocked and rerouted as the accident was being investigated and cleared. Alcohol is suspected as a possible contributor for Poncho who crossed over the line causing the fatal accident. Officially, the accident remains under investigation and charges could be pending. Both parties had insurance. A rollback wrecker from LakeView Towing recovered Pohcho's vehicle and it will be stored a LakeView in Livingston while Guzzi's vehicle was recovered by Ken's Towing and it will be stored at Harrison Body Shop in Livingston. The scene was cleared and traffic fully flowing by 9:30 am.