WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The defense team of a man awaiting his sentence for a fatal crash on Interstate 44 in 2018 will begin presenting its argument on Monday, June 12, 2023, according to Wichita County Courthouse officials.
Steven Ray Douglas, 61, of Burkburnett, pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony offense of accident involving death on Thursday, June 1, 2023, in the 89th District Courtroom, for the fatal hit-and-run accident on I-44 that claimed the life of Lorri Garst in 2018.
According to previous reports, Garst was an RV park leasing agent for Sunnyvale Estates.
Following his plea, Douglas elected to have 89th District Judge Charles Barnard set his punishment, which ranges from 2 to 20 years behind bars in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice institution.
The punishment trial for Douglas began at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 5, 2023, and continued until around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, when the prosecution, led by Wichita County Assistant District Attorney Matt Shelton, rested their case following the testimony of witnesses and law enforcement officials.
According to officials with the 89th District Court, the trial is currently set to resume on Monday, June 12, 2023, with Dustin Nimz, the defense attorney for Douglas, presenting the case for the defendant.
Court officials said the multi-day recess is due to a witness for the defense being unavailable to testify either Monday or Tuesday. Currently, Douglas is listed on the docket to appear in the 89th District Court on Thursday, June 8, 2023, though the nature of the hearing is unclear.
The accident from which the charge against Douglas stems occurred in November 2018, when officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said Garst was ejected from her vehicle after colliding with another vehicle on I-44 near Bacon Switch Road.
According to the autopsy report from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas, Garst was pronounced dead on November 15, 2018, at around 6:45 p.m. Medical examiners said Garst died after suffering multiple blunt force injuries caused after she was ejected from the vehicle and subsequently run over by other vehicles.
According to previous reports, a nurse with the Clinics of North Texas said when she arrived on the scene before rescuers arrived, two women were trying to pull the victim from the southbound lanes and out of traffic. She said the other car involved in the crash drove across the median and then sped away.
According to the affidavit, Douglas kept going north after the collision, took the East Road exit, pulled onto the shoulder, then stopped. A witness to the crash stopped there and told Douglas he had seen the accident.
Authorities said Douglas then got back in his vehicle and drove back by the accident but did not stop. Instead, Douglas drove to his home in Burkburnett, parked, covered the damage to the vehicle with a piece of carpet, and went inside.
A DPS trooper said he located the vehicle matching the description of witnesses at about 9:15 p.m. on November 15, and while he was looking at the vehicle, Douglas came out. The trooper said Douglas admitted he had been in the accident and did not stop to check on the victim.
After medical clearance from the hospital, Douglas was placed under arrest.
Douglas has a lengthy criminal history in Wichita Falls, with multiple convictions on record with the Wichita County Courthouse.
In addition to a conviction for aggravated assault in 1988, Douglas has been convicted of 18 offenses in the last 35 years. Douglas has been convicted of six theft or burglary offenses, six driving-related offenses, two offenses involving drugs, and three charges of evading arrest.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates on the punishment trial for Steven Ray Douglas as more information becomes available.