HOUSTON (KIAH) — A man with five prior convictions for driving while intoxicated has been convicted of murder for killing another driver in a 2018 drunk driving crash, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced on Friday.
Owen McNett, 50, of Houston, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday, and he chose to have his punishment determined by State District Judge Lori Chambers Gray. After hearing from McNett’s defense counsel, the judge put off the punishment hearing until Nov. 16.
“This is a repeat offender who was on parole for driving drunk when he killed a husband and father of four,” Ogg said. “He was a one-man crime wave on wheels, and it was just a matter of time until he killed someone.”
McNett was driving a Ram 1500 pickup about 8 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2018, when he approached a three-way stop at Telge and Boudreaux roads in Cypress. Wayne Childers, 54, was driving a Buick Verano on Boudreaux and was trying to turn south on Telge.
McNett went through the stop sign at 40 mph and T-boned the driver’s side of Childers’ car, killing Childers, prosecutors said.
A Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrested him at the hospital. McNett’s blood alcohol level was .31, almost four times the legal limit of .08.
McNett had been arrested for DWIs five times before the crash and had three long stints in prison.
In 1992, McNett was convicted in Kimble County for DWI and put on probation. In 1996, he was arrested by Benbrook police in Tarrant County for his second DWI and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Ten years later, in 2006, he was convicted of DWI in Johnson County and sentenced to seven years in prison.
In 2007, Houston police officers arrested McNett for his fourth DWI for which he received four years in prison. In November 2012, DPS troopers arrested him in McLennan County for what would be his fifth DWI. He was given a six-year prison sentence.
He has now been convicted of felony murder and faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and maximum of life. Felony murder is a type of charge that allows prosecutors to charge a person with murder for causing the death of someone while committing another felony, such as DWI.
Sean Teare, chief of the District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Division who prosecuted the case with William Orr, said he would seek a life sentence for McNett.
“This is our worst nightmare and an example of the system failing over and over again,” Teare said. “The second he gets out, he could be 90 years old and commit this crime again and kill someone else. He only has to be strong enough to turn the ignition key or push a button, and he’ll be behind the wheel of a 5,500-pound deadly weapon.”