HOUSTON – Prosecutors said Thursday that they've filed charges against a Houston bartender and two men who bought drinks for an underage woman who caused a drunken crash that killed a mother and her baby in February.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Thursday that the charges are the first involving a new task force in her office that works to find the source of the alcohol in alcohol-related cases.
"We are ground zero for alcohol-related car crashes and deaths in the United States," Ogg said. "We really couldn't do worse than our current record."
The 20-year-old driver, Veronica Rivas, was indicted this week on two counts of intoxicated manslaughter in the Feb. 28 crash in southeast Houston that killed 36-year-old Shayla Joseph and Joseph's infant son, Braylan, who was in his car seat. Joseph was on maternity leave from her job at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Authorities say Rivas was speeding in her SUV and that her blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. She is due to be arraigned April 24 and is free on $30,000 bond. She could get up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Amy Allen, a bartender at the Crescent City Connection Sports & Oyster Bar in southeast Houston, is charged with acting with criminal negligence by permitting Rivas and a 17-year-old companion to drink alcohol. Allen, 40, faces up to a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor.
Two others, including Devin Jackson, 24, the bar owner's son, and another man, John Medina, 23, are charged with knowingly purchasing and providing alcohol to a minor. Authorities said they were buying margaritas for Rivas and her friend. They face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
A woman who answered the phone at the bar Thursday said no one there would comment on the charges.
Prosecutors said Medina also was charged with aggravated perjury for lying to a grand jury, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The district attorney's office said Jackson and Medina had not yet been arrested.
"The charges today, I hope that they instill fear in every single person's heart that serves alcohol," said the district attorney's vehicular crimes division chief, Sean Teare. "I hope this causes people to be more responsible, and if you're not we will hold you responsible."