FROM STAFF REPORTS
BURNET — A 53-year-old woman who authorities described as a “habitual DWI offender” is heading to prison after a Burnet County jury on April 5 recommended a punishment of 60 years behind bars. State District Judge Alan Garrett followed up with the jury’s decision and sentenced Luann Penny to the six-decade term.
“Many times, citizens want to know what they can do to keep drunk drivers off the roadways,” said Burnet County District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee. “I believe this jury has shown exactly what needs to be done for these repeat offenders.”
On March 2, 2015, Marble Falls police responded to a single-vehicle accident on Mustang Drive. Following the investigation, officials charged Penny with driving while under the influence. During sentencing, prosecutors entered medical records and laboratory analysis that showed Penny’s blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
Penny entered a guilty plea in court but asked that a jury assess her punishment. While driving while intoxicated is a third-degree felony, the jury could also take into consideration Penny’s history of DWIs.
Prosecutors detailed to the jury that Penny had five prior DWI-related convictions dating to 1993 including one in Llano County in 2006 and two in McCulloch County in 1996 and 2011.
Assistant District Attorney Amber Shanafelt, who prosecuted the case along with Assistant District Attorney Peter Keim, argued for a long prison term during her closing arguments.
The jury responded with the 60-year term.
McAfee commended law enforcement, the jurors and the assistant prosecutors.
“In this case, the Marble Falls Police Department did an excellent job of getting Penny off the streets and assisted prosecutors in ensuring she would be off the streets for a long time,” the district attorney said. “This jury’s verdict will make Burnet (County) streets safer.”
This isn’t the first time Highland Lakes juries had levied long prison terms for repeat DWI offenders. In June 2014, a Llano County jury assessed a life in prison term for Richard Lee Pollard for driving while intoxicated, and a month later, a Burnet County jury recommended the same term for Terry Lynn Stevens in a DWI criminal case as well.