by SEAN KIMMONS
Despite incriminating evidence that a police camera recorded of Texas Longhorn running back D.J. Monroe’s driving while intoxicated arrest, the Hays County District Attorney’s Office is standing by its decision to drop the DWI charge.
On Dec. 18, Monroe accepted a plea agreement for the less stigmatized charge of obstruction of a passageway with deferred adjudication. Both charges are Class B misdemeanors, Hays County Assistant District Attorney Fred Weber stressed on Monday.
The district attorney’s office defended the move, saying that it would help keep the 20-year-old redshirt freshman’s scholarship intact.
“With Mr. Monroe we faced two choices. A plea to a DWI where he would be on probation and more than likely lose a chance at a college education at the University of Texas or a plea to Obstructing a Highway where he would be on probation and be allowed the opportunity to complete his education,” Weber wrote in an e-mail.
“In the long run I sincerely believe we made the correct choice,” Weber added. “He received no more or no less consideration than any other young person charged with the same crime. The only difference is that he is a football player and it made the newspaper.”
Weber also denied that the plea deal had anything to do with Monroe being a Texas football player or the upcoming championship game.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with his status as a football player,” he said. “It has everything to do with his chances of obtaining his college education.”
Under the plea agreement, Monroe will be on one-year probation. If he violates his probation, he could face jail time, Weber said.
“It is quite common for us (and other jurisdictions across the state) to resolve first offense DWI cases with this exact same plea agreement,” Weber said. “Sometimes we do it because we have a weak case. Other times we do it simply because it is the right thing under a certain set of circumstances.”
If the case had gone to trial, Sgt. James Brawner, of the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, would have been a character witness for Monroe. Brawner befriended Monroe, who is originally from Angleton in Brazoria County, while he was in high school.
Brawner became Monroe’s mentor and said that the video of his DWI arrest didn’t show anything out of the ordinary about Monroe.
“To me, it didn’t look like anything other than normal D.J.,” he said. “He’s just a nervous person.”
As for the vomiting in the back of the patrol car, Brawner said that he knows of several occasions when Monroe threw up due to his nervousness.
At a press conference last week, Texas football coach Mack Brown announced that Monroe would be reinstated.
“What I told him is I didn’t like what he did, but I do think he’s paid the penalty,” he said. “I wanted him to learn from it and be more accountable, but he’s been practicing with our team every day. He has not missed anything, and he’s had a great attitude since his incident.
“And if he practices well enough, we’ll play him in the game,” Brown added. “We’re not punishing him anymore.”
Sean Kimmons is senior reporter at the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership with the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print