A Helena man has been found guilty of his 12th driving under the influence offense on Wednesday.
Charles R. Horton, 53, was found guilty of driving into a snow back while under the influence in November 2010. He is now set to be sentenced for felony DUI on July 28.
The prosecution argued that Horton had continuously changed his story of the events that occurred on the night of the accident and admitted to lying about his girlfriend being behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
“No sir, I was not driving,” admitted Horton in a video taken on the night of his arrest.
Horton refused to take a breath test, and said Mike Menahan, deputy county attorney, believes this is indication that he was in fact intoxicated at the time of the accident.
“I was feeling very confident that I was not under the influence,” Horton testified.
But then Menahan asked why he refused a breath test if he was so sure he was not intoxicated, as a breath test would have proven he was sober.
“That probably would be good evidence,” Horton surmised. “I didn’t want to do anything. I had that right.”
Menahan then brought up the fact that Horton had lied about who was driving but never admitted to being intoxicated.
Horton’s attorney, Bryan Norcross, argued that his client was being assaulted by his girlfriend at the time of incident, which caused him to crash into the snow bank.
Norcross said that alcohol was a factor, but it was Horton’s girlfriend’s intoxication that led to the incident.
“There is no evidence that he was diminished at that time,” said Norcross. “He was under attack.”
Authorities who witnessed the incident testified that Horton was visibly intoxicated at the time and smelled of alcohol. His speech was also slurred.
Horton testified that he had consumed one or two drinks at home before going out and then another three or more at a downtown bar before his arrest.
While driving home from the bar, Horton and his girlfriend, Donita Herrera, got into an argument. Horton made a “profane derogatory statement” to Herrera, who then scratched at his face with her nails.
Herrera testified that she was blacked out at the time because of her level of intoxication.
“I don’t really remember what happened,” she testified.
Domingo Leveque-Zapata, an officer with the Helena Police Department, said he met with Herrera the next day to talk about the incident and she told him that Horton was driving and had been drinking.
She also added that they had gotten into an argument about Horton’s drinking right before the accident.
Herrera is currently in jail for a DUI she incurred five days later after being caught driving on the wrong side of a street.
Horton entered a not guilty plea and was released from jail after a friend posted a $25,000 property bond.
However, Horton was later caught violating the conditions of his release by driving from the courthouse and his bond was reinstated at the initial amount of $40,000, which was also posted.
Horton now faces a 13 month sentence in jail followed by up to a five-year suspended sentence.
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