Prosecutor Explains Shock Probation Handed Down in Capellan Case

Lead prosecutor Tom Brummett explains the shock probation decision made in the Benito Capellan intoxication manslaughter case.

By: Meredith Hillgartner

LUBBOCK, TX- In July 2012, former Texas Tech student Benito Capellan was driving home drunk when he hit and killed 32 year old Texas Tech Master’s student Brita Schneider from Germany.         

“I’m so sorry for what I have done, all the hurt that I’ve caused,” Capellan said.

In December, a jury sentenced Capellan to 10 years probation.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Brummett was the lead prosecutor on the case.

“He went to a jury, the jury heard all of the evidence and came back with ten years in the Texas Department of Corrections but they also recommended that that be probated,” Brummett said. “[The] judge sets the length of probation and then sets the terms and conditions. “

Conditions like taking alcohol awareness classes.

And as of last week, Capellan will also have to undergo ‘shock’ probation, or mandatory jail time, to show Capellan what he can expect if he violates his probation.

“One of the most important is mandatory jail time,” Brummett said. “Most of them have to do with chapter 49 offenses which are all the intoxication offenses…and that is what the case was here intoxication manslaughter.”  

After receiving probation, the minimum amount of jail time a person can receive for intoxication manslaughter is 120 days.

Capellan got 134 days and Brummett said any time he spent in prison before or during his trial does not count.

During his trial Capellan voluntarily took alcohol related classes and started a campaign for drunk driving awareness.

Brummett said these things may have helped the jury decide on Capellan’s sentence.

“They made the determination that they felt that was sincere and they determined that that deserved a certain amount of leniency,” Brummett said.

“But to let them know that I will use this chance, this opportunity that is being granted to me, to make a difference for her,” Capellan said. 

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