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“Justice was served but nothing else”

A sentence handed down to Brian Gunter for death of 12-year old Ganado boy

By Jessica Coleman

Contributing Writer

    Sighs and gasps filled the courtroom as Judge Bobby Bell handed Brian Erik Gunter four 60-year sentences and a 10-year sentence for his role in the crash that killed 12-year-old Ganado resident LaMarquis Lee.

    Gunter, 46, hung his head as the verdicts and sentences were read. Lee’s grateful but still heartbroken family embraced one another and wiped away tears. The verdict marked the end of a long road to justice for the Lee and Faltysek families.

    Gunter again stared at the floor as Amanda Faltysek read aloud an impact statement that described her son as a good student, good friend, and as the person who taught her “what true, unconditional love was.”

    According to evidence presented from the black box of the pickup truck, Gunter was driving at the time of the crash, and driving 99 miles per hour when he struck the SUV driven by LaMarquis’ grandmother, who was turning into the boy’s father’s home. The impact ejected LaMarquis from the vehicle.

    Prosecutor Steven Tyler called Gunter’s actions after the wreck, “wicked,” describing a belligerent, angry man hurling racial slurs at the family, and for Gunter telling the grandmother she should be “laying in that ditch with him.”

    Tyler also presented evidence that Gunter refused a breath test at the scene. Over an hour after the crash, a blood test placed Gunter’s blood alcohol level at .12, 1.5 times the legal limit.

    The defense attempted to place some blame on Tanya Lee, the woman who was driving the vehicle carrying LaMarquis home, and stated that Gunter was remorseful for his actions. Tyler then presented evidence showing mathematically that regardless of what Lee would have done, no reaction on her part would have prevented the collision, saying Gunter was just traveling too fast and was too impaired by alcohol, making his reaction times incredibly slow.

      Thomas Faltysek, grandfather to LaMarquis, said he never saw anything resembling remorse.

    “We never saw [remorse]. We’ve never had it expressed to us,” he said during court. “Maybe it’s just a difference in people, but I couldn’t – I would have been broken down the whole time if the shoes were on the other foot. I don’t know. I don’t understand the word anymore, or people.”

    Thomas Faltysek said that while the family feels that justice was served, justice doesn’t make them whole again.

    “It is complicated, because you’re happy, but it doesn’t replace what is gone,” he said. “LaMarquis will never experience graduation, first love or heartbreak, holidays, birthdays, children - or great grandchildren for me. There is some relief about it, in that justice was served, and that’s the main thing. Justice was served but nothing else.”

    Faltysek said that he hopes laws can be changed to get repeat offenders like Gunter off the streets before tragedy strikes. Gunter has several prior convictions for driving without a license, driving while intoxicated, failing to carry auto insurance, and more. He has also been charged but not tried yet for Assault Family Violence for an altercation with his wife in Newton County, Texas.

    After a long, exhausting trial, Amber Jalufka said the family is very pleased with the performance of ADA Tyler, and hopes to honor her nephew by living “our best life, because that’s how LaMarquis lived.”

Jackson County Herald Tribune

306 N. Wells
Edna, TX 77957