AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite evidence of an alcohol reading on his ignition interlock device and three missed drug tests, 23-year-old Roman Turullos-Gonzalez will remain on probation, avoiding a return to prison. On Friday, Judge David Wahlberg admonished Turullos-Gonzalez for the violations, but ruled they were minor and caught early enough to keep from warranting a return to prison.
After pleading guilty to failure to stop and render aid in the 2012 collision that killed Mark Gobble, Turullos-Gonzalez served six-months of “shock probation” in prison before being released to serve the rest of his 10-year sentence on probation. At the time of his release in December, Wahlberg warned Turullos-Gonzalez he had “one foot in prison” and not following the terms of probation could possibly land him back in prison for the rest of his 10-year-sentence.
Shock probation is a sentence designed to give someone a taste of prison in hopes the experience will be enough to keep them on the right side of the law during the rest of their probation and beyond. When the judge sentenced Turullos-Gonzalez, he also included the requirement of an ignition-interlock device on his vehicle for five years, a $10,000 fine, and 400 hours of community service.
The Gobble family was not happy with the decision then and they were especially upset with the decision on Friday. They wrote letters to Wahlberg prior to Friday’s ruling urging the judge to send Turullos-Gonzalez back to prison. Wahlberg acknowledged in open court his decision was not easy and would surely upset some, but decided it was the appropriate fate for Turullos-Gonzalez.
“(Wahlberg) is a disgrace to the robe he wears because he is not performing the desires of what the people in the State of Texas want,” said Jack Busenbark, Mark Gobble’s brother-in-law. As Wahlberg announced his ruling, Gobble’s widow Leslie Hussey got up and left the courtroom visibly upset.
“Our family is confident that he is going to break his probation again and we fear he will hurt or kill someone,” said Busenbark. “If that happens, the blood is on the judge’s hands.”
Wahlberg did add terms to Turullos-Gonzalez probation including a SCRAM device ankle bracelet to detect alcohol use. Turullos-Gonzalez will also not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle for the remainder of his sentence.
Bart Griffin, who lost his daughter Courtney in a hit-and-run collision in 2011, has teamed with the Gobble family in recent years to strengthen Failure to Stop and Render Aid laws in the state of Texas. He was in the audience Friday and was equally disappointed with the ruling.
“This is the key problem,” said Griffin. “When you have a judge who cannot step up and penalize people that kill others. It makes what we did feel somewhat meaningless.”