An Orange County jury has handed down a 15 year sentence for a man who pleaded guilty to killing an Orange County in a DWI wreck in 2015.
Travis Collins, 30, was sentenced to 15 years in prison as well as $5,000 fine punishment for each of two charges of intoxication manslaughter but the sentences will run concurrently.
Police say Collins was drunk and speeding on Park Avenue when his car went airborne over railroad tracks and landed on top of a motorcycle killing Riley Portie, 54, and his wife, Emily, 50, in May 2015.
Collins pleaded guilty to two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Family members of Collins burst into tears and his wife left the courtroom as the sentence was read.
The prosecutor asked that the sentences run consecutively but 128th District Judge Courtney Arkeen ruled that run concurrently.
At one point after the sentence had been read Collins apologized to the Portie family saying he tried to reach out earlier but couldn't because he was in jail to which family members said thank you. Several family members came up to Collins before they left the court room to tell him they loved him.
Tears streamed down the faces of family members of the Porites as they hugged each other in the courtroom.
In a victim impact statement the Portie's daughter-in-law said "I stand here a broken down mother of four who lost something so big I can only hang on to small but precious memories that I have before their lives were taken too fast."
12news spoke to Collins’ cousin Sean Anderson after the trial. He explained he is not happy with his cousin’s sentence.
“The justice system was not right, it was broken it has failed and I say this is because it would have, could have been better than what it was,” said Anderson.
Earlier during closing arguments Defense Attorney Luro C. Taylor emphasized that accidents happen all the time. He told the jury he wants them to remember all the facts especially testimony from a psychologist who stated Collins had a mental disability.
Luro said in the psychologist’s report it showed that Collins has an IQ of a 3rd grader and the learning capacity of a 7-year-old. He told the jury he wants them to take Collins’ mental disability into consideration when they make their decision.
Luro added Collins made a mistake and is asking for a second chance.
“I don’t think this is going to be white justice, I don’t think it is going to be black justice I think it’s going to be American justice, you have listened,” said Taylor.
Prosecutor Phillip Smith argued that Collins made a bad decision to drink and drive and should have known better.
“There really aren’t any do-over buttons, we have to live with the consequences of our choices,” said Smith.
He said despite Collins’ learning disability he was able to pass a driver’s test and should know all the rules.
“It’s not whether he was a great person before this, he could’ve been a saint your job is to judge his conduct the night of May 24, 2015,” said Smith
He also talked about the family members of Emily and Riley Portie and how they will never see their loved ones again.
At the end of the Trial, Defense Attorney Luro C. Taylor said he felt like the sentencing was fair. He said he feels like Collins felt some closure after he gave his condolences to the family members of Emily and Riley Portie.
Prosecutor Phillip Smith said he was happy with the jury’s sentencing as well. He wanted to emphasize that Collins’ case is completely different from the Carl Broussard case which took place on May 15 2017.
Broussard was pleading guilty to two counts of failure to stop and render aid in the fatal 2015 accident that killed Ava Nichole Lewis, 25, and her daughter, LaMya Janise Newhouse, 6.
Broussard was sentenced to 10-years of probation and fined $10,000 by Judge Buddie Bahn in 260th District Court in Orange County on May 15. A few days later Bahn ordered Carl Broussard to spend 180 days in Orange County jail.
“These are completely different cases it’s like comparing apples and oranges,” said Smith.
Smith explains Broussard was not speeding during the accident and there was no evidence that he was intoxicated. He adds the judge also made the decision on the sentencing.
“Every case has variables that make them different from every other cases there is no specific formula,” said Smith.
Kazzie Portie, one of Emily and Riley Portie's sons released a statement regarding the sentencing:
In the words of my brother, "this is a bad situation for both families involved." It's true. My family and I aren't the only ones suffering through this. I had the chance to speak with some of the Collins family. Some had spoke nothing but kindness and said that we have been in their heart's. Everyone praying for my family and I, needs to pray for the Collins family. We aren't the only ones hurting. When something tragic happens like this it takes a toll on both families involved. I just wish all the people I've met over the past few days would've been because of different circumstances, I sincerely hope the time Travis serves can improve his future decisions and that he can even one day speak to others about the effects of drinking and driving. It would make me very happy if he uses the 15 years to not only reflect his past decision, but begins to make decisions for a better future. I want nothing more than for him to be a changed man after these 15 years. No matter what, the two people I loved most in this world, aren't coming back. I hope the least he does is become a better person who makes better decisions in the future.The ending of this trial is nothing to celebrate. The pain of our parents being gone will always be there and no amount of jail time will make any of us feel any better about it. But one must pay consequences for his own actions.